2021 journal article

AlN Single Crystal Accelerometer for Nuclear Power Plants


By: H. Kim n, S. Kerrigan n, M. Bourham n & X. Jiang n

author keywords: Aluminum nitride; Accelerometers; III-V semiconductor materials; Temperature sensors; Vibrations; Crystals; Bulk aluminum nitride (AlN); high-temperature (HT) accelerometer; high-temperature sensing; piezoelectric sensor; radiation effect
Source: Web Of Science
Added: March 22, 2021

Reliable vibration sensing is essential to the immediate detection of unusual vibrations, ensuring the safety of nuclear power plant structures. For nuclear power plant applications, the sensor element must endure the harsh environment while retaining reliable performance. Aluminum nitride (AlN) single crystal is considered a promising candidate for the sensing unit due to its robustness to high temperature (HT) and irradiation conditions. However, there are few efforts in developing industrial accelerometers using AlN bulk-machined materials. This article aims to develop a shear-type accelerometer with AlN single crystal plates. The accelerometer's design is based on the numerical simulation results, followed by the fabrication of the sensor and the extensive validation under HT (~1000 °C). The sensitivity of the accelerometer was about 9.2 pC/g. The prototype sensor showed stable performance at varying temperatures from room temperature to 1000 °C. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the accelerometer was successfully sustained for 10 h under HT exposure of 1000 °C, and no obvious mechanical damage was detected after the test. After gamma irradiation for 1 month, the sensor performed stably, without any significant change in sensitivity. The developed AlN accelerometer can be a promising option to monitor the structural integrity of nuclear power plant structures.