Welcome everybody on the website of the SO-hIgh team!
Who are we?
We are 4 Belgian students from UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain) and we take
part of the REXUS BEXUS program. We constitute the SO-hIgh team and we have
proposed and experiment that will be sent on a stratospheric balloon in september-
october 2009. The members of the team are :
- Delphine Van Vynckt (Third bachelor in physics and chemical engineering)
- Guerric de Crombrugghe (Third bachelor in electricity and mechanical engineering)
- Alban Jago (Third bachelor in physics and mathematics)
- Victor le Maire (Master in physics)
We are also supported by professors and researchers from UCL which are :
- Prof Denis Flandre Head of Microelectronics Laboratory
- Prof Laurent Francis Microsystems Chair holder
- Prof Jean-Pierre Raskin Head of the Microwave Laboratory
- Nicolas André Main 3D MEMS researcher
- Olivier Bulteel UV photodiode researcher
- Pierre Gerard Electronic engineer
- Benoit Olbrechts Works in the hyper frequencies laboratory
What is REXUS BEXUS?
REXUS BEXUS is a German-Swedish cooperation that propose each year students to create their own experiment. These experiments will be sent on either a rocket (Rexus) or a stratospheric balloon (Bexus). German students use half of the payload while Swedish half is distributed to students team from other European countries through a collaboration with ESA Education. Here is a link to the website of ESA Education. You can also learn more about REXUS BEXUS on the official site.
How to participate?
There are severals steps to follow in attempt to be selected for the REXUS BEXUS program. The first thing is to visit le website page of the ESA Education here where you can find all the necessary informations. After that you have to form a tightly knit team of students ready to spent some time on such a project. You need also a good idea of realizable experiment that could be send on a stratospheric balloon or a rocket. If you need help ask some of your professors to help you to find ideas. Then you have to fill in the application form and send it in time. Maybe you will be preselected and invited to defend your project in front of ESA experts at the ESTEC site in Noordwijk. If you pass this stage you will be selected for the sending of your experiment in Swueda at the Estrange Space Center and before to participate to the student training week and Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany.
Louvain is a great site to work because they are plenty of infrastructures at our disposal. Indeed, we will have a lot of facilities helping us to achieve our experiment.
The Microelectronics Laboratory and the Microwave Laboratory will give us the opportunity to use a Climatic chamber where the temperature varies from minus 40 degrees Celsius to 150 degrees Celsius and humidity varies from 0% to 100% depending on temperature. Tests will be done there and it is a good way to find the critical limits of our experiment and so to improve the resistance of our “weather report” board in strong thermics conditions.
In addition, we have access to probe station where analogical and digital measurements are made on chips and on our board.
Besides, UCL owns
laboratory in which solar stimulation is possible. Finally, there are
photometric laboratory and clean rooms that we will use for
fabrication and packaging of SOI-MEMS and circuits.
You can find some pictures in the Picture gallery.
SO-hIgh in the local newspapers
There was an article about our experiment in our local newspaper at Louvain-la-Neuve called "La Quinzaine". You can find this article in the attachments at the sub-page.
An other article has been writed by "Le Soir" which is a famous newspaper in Brussels covering general news. A copy of this article is in the attachements at the sub-page.
SO-hIgh on the website of UCL
There is an article about our experiment on the website of our university UCL : http://www.uclouvain.be/282685.html
You can send us emails at the following address : firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find here:
- a view of the MEMS' aplication
- our previous presentation at the ESTEC
- an article of the newspaper "le Soir" about our experiment
- an article in the student newspaper "la Quinzaine"
- the GE vibes magazine where you can find an other article about us
What is our experiment?
MEMS and SOI
MEMS is the acronym for Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems. This name stands for the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, and electronics on a common silicon substrate through microfabrication technology. The typical size of a MEMS system is between 1 micrometer and 1 millimeter. Their small size leads to many other advantages : small weight, reduced power consumption, etc. Those advantages are already used in many applications : cars, telecommunication, ..., even the famous Nintendo Wii makes use of them. As you can imagine, their small weight is of first interest for space-applications, where they still need to make their proof.
SOI is the acronym for Silicon On Insulator. This name refers to the use of a layered silicon-insulator-silicon substrate in place of conventional silicon substrates in microelectronics manufacturing. It happens that it reduces parasitic device capacitance. SOI devices have thus a stronger resistance to irradiation and temperature effect.
At the juncture of both
technologies, we find UCL components called SOI-MEMS. That is SOI
sensors with size typical of MEMS components. So every time you will read SOI-MEMS, we will mean UCL components.
There are many objectives we want to achieve thanks to Bexus balloon. The main objective is to experiment the introduction of MEMS sensors for weather balloon, by the way of a miniature weather board. Indeed, the experiment consists in elaborating a 'weather report' board using MEMS built with SOI technology developed by the research engineers of the Engineering School of Louvain. To succeed in this objective, we have to reach three sub-objectives. These are :
To assess the introduction of MEMS (standard and UCL) in the near-space conditions
Indeed, MEMS are an enabling technology for small sized components. This technology is of first interest for space applications: reduced size, small weight, reduced power consumption, etc.
To qualify SOI-MEMS sensors for measurements of UV, humidity and pressure :
The board will contain among other things three SOI-MEMS sensors: UV, humidity and pressure sensors. Devices built with SOI technology are known for a stronger resistance to irradiations than conventional bulk silicon devices, which is also of first interest for near-space and space applications. In addition to these sensors, we will add two MEMS components 'off the shelf' to measure pressure and temperature. This will allow us to monitor the characteristics of the SOI-MEMS sensors tested during the entire flight. The aim is to determine their physical limits in near-space conditions.
To reduce cost and payload of balloons like BEXUS ! :
This objective is reached by assessing the gain due to miniaturization. A MEMS based weather board is lighter and consume less energy than a classic weather station. In a long term view, such a board could be used on weather balloon (including BEXUS balloon).
Mr Olle Persson came to visit us on the 18th of August. We made a presentation with him about the REXUS/BEXUS program at Louvain-la-Neuve and we show him the progress of our experiment. What we made and what we had still to realize. We had also a short visit of the different facilities that we can use and we spent the evening in Brussels.
All the components are bought and we are waiting for the soldering of the main board by an external society (MicroSys). When we will receive the board we will begin the tests on the whole experiment in a climatic chamber and in a vacuum chamber.
After the flight, the last step will be data processing, and report writing.