3C-Silicon Carbide Microresonators for Timing and Frequency Reference

Micromachines (Basel). 2016 Nov 15;7(11):208. doi: 10.3390/mi7110208.


In the drive to miniaturise and integrate reference oscillator components, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) resonators are excellent candidates to replace quartz crystals. Silicon is the most utilised resonator structural material due to its associated well-established fabrication processes. However, when operation in harsh environments is required, cubic silicon carbide (3C-SiC) is an excellent candidate for use as a structural material, due to its robustness, chemical inertness and high temperature stability. In order to actuate 3C-SiC resonators, electrostatic, electrothermal and piezoelectric methods have been explored. Both electrothermal and piezoelectric actuation can be accomplished with simpler fabrication and lower driving voltages, down to 0.5 V, compared to electrostatic actuation. The vibration amplitude at resonance can be maximised by optimising the design and location of the electrodes. Electrical read out of the resonator can be performed with electrostatic or piezoelectric transduction. Finally, a great deal of research has focused on tuning the resonant frequency of a 3C-SiC resonator by adjusting the DC bias applied to the electrodes, with a higher (up to 160-times) tuning range for electrothermal tuning compared to piezoelectric tuning. Electrothermal tuning lowers the frequency, while piezoelectric tuning can be used to raise the frequency.

Keywords: actuation methods; frequency tuning; resonators; silicon carbide.

Publication types

  • Review