This paper describes an electrostatic excited microcantilever sensor operating in static mode that is more sensitive than traditional microcantilevers. The proposed sensor comprises a simple microcantilever with electrostatic excitation ability and an optical or piezoresistive detector. Initially the microcantilever is excited by electrostatic force to near pull-in voltage. The nonlinear behavior of the microcantilever in near pull-in voltage i.e., the inverse-square relation between displacement and electrostatic force provides a novel method for force amplification. In this situation, any external load applied to the sensor will be amplified by electrostatic force leading to more displacement. We prove that the proposed microcantilever sensor can be 2 to 100 orders more sensitive compared with traditional microcantilevers sensors of the same dimensions. The results for surface stress and the free-end point force load are discussed.
Keywords: force amplification; microcantilever; pull-in voltage.