On the nonlinear dynamics of a piezoresistive based mass switch based on catastrophic bifurcation

Int J Mech Mater Des. 2023 Feb 14:1-15. doi: 10.1007/s10999-023-09650-z. Online ahead of print.


This research investigates the feasibility of mass sensing in piezoresistive MEMS devices based on catastrophic bifurcation and sensitivity enhancement due to the orientation adjustment of the device with respect to the crystallographic orientation of the silicon wafer. The model studied is a cantilever microbeam at the end of which an electrostatically actuated tip mass is attached. The piezoresistive layers are bonded to the vicinity of the clamped end of the cantilever and the device is set to operate in the resonance regime by means of harmonic electrostatic excitation. The nonlinearities due to curvature, shortening and electrostatic excitation have been considered in the modelling process. It is shown that once the mass is deposited on the tip mass, the system undergoes a cyclic fold bifurcation in the frequency domain, which yields a sudden jump in the output voltage of the piezoresistive layers; this bifurcation is attributed to the nonlinearities governing the dynamics of the response. The partial differential equations of the motion are derived and discretized to give a finite degree of freedom model based on the Galerkin method, and the limit cycles are captured in the frequency domain by using the shooting method. The effect of the orientation of the device with respect to the crystallographic coordinates of the silicon and the effect of the orientation of the piezoresistive layers with respect to the microbeam length on the sensitivity of the device is also investigated. Thanks to the nonlinearity and the orientation adjustment of the device and piezoresistive layers, a twofold sensitivity enhancement due to the added mass was achieved. This achievement is due to the combined amplification of the sensitivity in the vicinity of the bifurcation point, which is attributed to the nonlinearity and maximizing the sensitivity by orientation adjustment of the anisotropic piezoresistive coefficients.

Keywords: Bifurcation; Cantilever; Mass sensor; Nonlinearity; Piezo resistivity; Sensitivity.