Capacitive Based Micromachined Resonators for Low Level Mass Detection

Micromachines (Basel). 2020 Dec 25;12(1):13. doi: 10.3390/mi12010013.


Advancements in microfabrication technologies and novel materials have led to new innovations in miniaturized gas sensors that can identify miniscule changes in a complex environment. Micromachined resonators with the capability to offer high sensitivity and selectivity in array integration make mass loading a potential mechanism for electronic nose applications. This paper investigates the mass sensing characteristics of progressive capacitive based micromachined resonators as potential candidates for volatile organic compound detection where also there is a need for miniaturized array configuration. In this paper, a detailed investigative review of the major three geometric designs of capacitive based micromachined resonators, namely, the microcantilever, the microbridge and the clamped membrane sensors is performed. Although many reviews are present in literature regarding mass sensors, however there is a gap in the literature regarding the common capacitive based micromachined mass sensors. This research gives a review on the foundation for capacitive based micromachined mass sensors while highlighting the potential capabilities of each geometric design to be developed further. Moreover, this paper also introduces the advancements based on the geometric designs of the capacitive based micromachined mass sensors. An in-depth analysis is done for each geometric design, to identify the critical design parameters, which affect the sensors' performances. Furthermore, the theoretically achievable mass sensitivity for each capacitive based micromachined mass sensor is modeled and analyzed using finite element analysis with mass variation in the picogram range. Finally, a critical analysis is done on the sensor sensitivities and further discussed in detail wherein each design is compared to each other and its current advances. Additionally, an insight to the advantages and disadvantages associated with each simulated geometry and its different advances are given. The results of the investigative review and analysis indicate that the sensitivities of the capacitive based micromachined sensors are dependent not only on the material composition of the devices but also on the varying degrees of clamping between the sensor geometries. In essence, the paper provides future research the groundwork to choose proper candidate geometry for a capacitive based micromachined mass sensor, with its several advantages over other mass sensors, based on the needed application.

Keywords: capacitive; clamped membrane; gas detection; gas sensor; gravimetric; microbridge; microcantilever; microelectromechanical systems; micromachined resonator; sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Review