Low-Frequency Vibration Sensor with a Sub-nm Sensitivity Using a Bidomain Lithium Niobate Crystal

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Feb 1;19(3):614. doi: 10.3390/s19030614.


We present a low-frequency sensor for the detection of vibrations, with a sub-nm amplitude, based on a cantilever made of a single-crystalline lithium niobate (LiNbO₃) plate, with a bidomain ferroelectric structure. The sensitivity of the sensor-to-sinusoidal vibrational excitations was measured in terms of displacement as well as of acceleration amplitude. We show a linear behavior of the response, with the vibrational displacement amplitude in the entire studied frequency range up to 150 Hz. The sensitivity of the developed sensor varies from minimum values of 20 μV/nm and 7 V/g (where g = 9.81 m/s² is the gravitational acceleration), at a frequency of 23 Hz, to peak values of 92.5 mV/nm and 2443 V/g, at the mechanical resonance of the cantilever at 97.25 Hz. The smallest detectable vibration depended on the excitation frequency and varied from 100 nm, at 7 Hz, to 0.1 nm, at frequencies above 38 Hz. Sensors using bidomain lithium niobate single crystals, as sensitive elements, are promising for the detection of ultra-weak low-frequency vibrations in a wide temperature range and in harsh environments.

Keywords: bidomain crystal; lithium niobate; sensor; vibration.