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ICETACS 2013

Finite Element Modelling of Piezoelectric MicroCantilever as Gas Sensor


Sandeep Arya

Saleem Khan

Parveen Lehana

Dept. of Physics & Electronics,


University of Jammu, Jammu

Dept. of Physics & Electronics,


University of Jammu, Jammu

Dept. of Physics & Electronics,


University of Jammu, Jammu
Email:
pklehanajournals@gmail.com

Abstract- This paper presents the modelling and design of


piezoelectric based micro-cantilever for operation in enclosed
environmental conditions. The successful design of cantileve r is
based on the interdependence of various mechanical and
electrical parameters and further their dependence on the
selected material and chosen geometry. Thus the end result
depends on the mechanical and electrical sensitivities of the
cantilever. The cantilever design is based on the material
selection as well as determination of geometrical dimensions. In
this proposed design, an aluminium material is selected for
cantilever design on the silicon substrate. S ystematic steps
toward optimization of geometrical dimensions include initial
analytical estimates of geometrical dimensions, followed by
finite-element modelling and analysis of such cantilevers under
the applied electric field. The observed design have shown
variation in free end of micro-cantilever beam for different
gases. Thus, this proposed cantilever can be a fine gas sensor.

I.

INT RODUCT ION

The working principle of micro-cantilever based sensor


involves the transpiration of mechanical energy that arises
due to deformations of the micro-machined components.
The measured output is due to the change in cantilever
deflection [1]. The piezoelectric material observes a change
in strain due to the cantilever bending and responds with a
change in electric field [2-5]. Higher mechanical sensitivity
leads to larger surface-stress induced bending of the
cantilever which results in higher sensor performance and
sensitivity. Several researchers have been reported the
development of some successful piezoelectric microcantilevers as detectors and sensors [6-11]. They all depend
on two different principles of actuation, the static and the
dynamic modes. The static mode measures the deflection of
the beam due to the adsorption of molecules on one side of
the cantilever. This adsorption produces a differential
surface stress and the consequent bending of the beam. The
dynamic mode measures the resonance of the cantilever.
Since the adsorbate is not uniformly distributed over the
cantilever, hence the position of the adsorbate affects the
dynamic response in different ways depending on the mass
position with respect to the cantilever [12-14]. In this paper,
a finite element model (FEM) was designed and optimized
for its geometrical dimensions to analyze the response of
piezoelectric micro-cantilever as gas sensor. A small and
thin layer of Barium Titanate was integrated and sandwiched
between a rectangular Silicon substrate and an active
978-1-4673-5250-5/13/$31.00 2013 IEEE

metallic layer of Aluminium whose one end is free to


vibrate. COMSOL, a commercial finite element analysis tool
was used to develop and design a finite element model of the
micro-cantilever.
II.

FINIT E ELEMENT A NALYSIS

Piezoelectric systems for finite element analysis


transform a continuum system into its equivalent discretized
system. Piezoelectricity is the interaction between linear
elasticity equations with electrostatic charge equations by
means of electric constants [15] [16]. Let us consider a
cantilever beam having length L, then the stress-charge form
of the equations is given by

S E d t E
D d E
E

where is the strain vector, S is the compliance or


elasticity matrix, is the stress vector, d is the

d t is the transpose
of the piezoelectric coupling coefficient matrix, E is the
electric field vector, D is the electric displacement vector,
piezoelectric coupling coefficient matrix,

and is the electric permittivity matrix [17]. The stresscharge equation is significant for finite element analysis due
to its involvement in conversion of mechanical strain into
electrical power. Inspite of coupling matrix, piezoelectric
model also depend on the elasticity matrix and relative
permittivity equations. Elasticity matrix is required to
evaluate the elastic constants to transform the <100> axes of
the material into the axes of the substrate orientation.
Elasticity is the relationship between stress and strain.
Hooke's law describes the relationship between stress ( )
and strain ( ) and is given by

C
S
where C is the mechanical stiffness and S is the
compliance. The mechanical stiffness can be designated as a
single value of Youngs Modulus E . Hence Hookes law
can also be written as

ICETACS 2013
The elasticity matrix for isotropic materials can be expressed
as

0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0

1
0
0
0
E
SE

0
0 1 2
0
0
(1 )(1 2 ) 0
0
0
0
0 1 2
0

0
0
0
0 1 2
0

surfaces of the beam [20]. The deflection of such a beam


can be estimated by the relation

where is the beams free end deflection. The free


end of the micro-cantilever beam deflects due to
vibrational amplitude that produces when the device is
externally driven by a piezoelectric mterial. The vibration
amplitude is a function of the frequency that reaches
maximum at the resonant frequency. The resonant
frequency of a micro-cantilever beam is calculated as

f0

CANT ILEVER DESIGN CONSIDERAT IONS

FL3

3EI
where F is the load applied to the free end of beam, L
is the length of the beam, I is the second moment of the
beams crossectional area, and E is the Youngs modulus of
elasticity of the beam material [19]. I can be calculated as

density of the beam material.


IV.

DESIGN FORMAT ION

The model was designed using a piezoelectric


domain solver. The dimension of the selected materials
for micro-cantilever design is shown in table 1 while the
material properties selected for the design is shown in
table 2.
T ABLE 1. MATERIALS AND DIMENSIONS

wt
12

where w is the width of a micro-cantilever beam and t


is the thickness. The stiffness (k) of a cantilever beam is
given as

2t
E
2
2 L 12

is the resonance constant and is the

where

The deflection ( ) of the free end of a rectangular


micro-cantilever beam due to stress is given by

1 and 2 are stresses that acts on top and bottom

1 2

R L2

where E is the Youngs modulus and is the


poissons ratio [18]. Relative permittivity, also known as
dielectric constant, is the ratio of the permittivity of a
specific material to that of free s pace or vacuum.
Permittivity is the property of a medium that affects the
magnitude of force between two point charges.
III.

and

3EI
L3

The deflection in cantilever beam generates due to the


difference in stress of the top and bottom surfaces. This
difference can be calculated with the help of Stoneys
equation and is given as

1
1
6 2 ( 1 2 )
R
Et
where R is the radius of curvature of micro-cantilever
beam due to stress on top and bottom surfaces, v is the
Poissons ratio of the material, t is the thickness of the beam,

-179-

Piezoelectric
Material
Lithium
Niobate

Parameters

Substrate

Material

Silicon

Length

50

Width

10

10

Height

Density
(kg/m 3 )

2330

Be am
mate rial
Aluminium
50
10
1

4700

2700

T ABLE 2. MATERIAL P ROP ERTIES


Coefficients

Silicon

Aluminium

Youngs modulus (Pa)

170 x 10 9

70 x 10 9

Poissons Ratio

0.28

0.35

Electrical
Conductivity (S/m)

1 x 10 12

35.5 x 10 6

T hermal Conductivity
(W/(m*K))

130

237

ICETACS 2013

The piezoelectric material also depends on other


factors that are equally responsible for successful design
of a micro-cantilever. These factors are elasticity matrix
( S E ) , coupling matrix (d ) and relative permittivity ( ) .
The piezoelectric constants used in the design are as-

0
0
S11 S12 S13 S14

0
S12 S11 S13 S14 0

S
S
S
0
0
0
13
33
S E 13

0
0
S14 S14 0 S44

0
0
0 S44
S14

0
0
0
S14 ( S11 S12 ) / 2
0

The electrical boundary condition was applied to


stimulate the piezoelectric material. The electric potential of
+10 volts was applied to the side boundary of a piezoelectric
material and ground condition was applied to the lower
boundary of the substrate. The micro-cantilever is then
enclosed in the sphere to know the effect of different gases
present in the sphere. The spherical atmosphere was chosen
one by one to know the effect of different gases with respect
to change in displacement at the free end of micro-cantilever
beam. The gases selected alternatively for this experiment
were air, humid air, helium and oxygen. The different
parameters used for these gases are represented in table 4.
T ABLE 4. MATERIAL P ARAMETERS FOR DIFFERENT GASES
Gases

The permittivity and the piezoelectric coupling


matrices can be written as

0
11 0

0 11 0
0
0 33

d d 22
d
31
The

d15

d 22

d15

d31

d33

coefficients

d 22

0
0

shown inside the matrices of

piezoelectric constants are termed as material constants


[18]. Table 3 shows the list of material constants for Lithium
Niobate.
T ABLE 3. MATERIAL CONSTANTS FOR BARIUM T ITANATE
Mate rial Constants

S11

Values
20.310 Nm-2
10

S12

5.310 10 Nm-2

S13

7.510 10 Nm-2

S14

0.910 10 Nm-2

S33

24.51010 Nm -2

S 44

6.010 10 Nm-2

11

44

33

29

d15

3.7 Cm -2

d 22

2.5 Cm -2

d 31

0.2 Cm -2

d 33

1.3 Cm -2

Parameters

Air

CO 2

Helium

Nitroge n

Dynamic
Viscosity
(kg/ms)

1.87
x10 -5

1.50
x10 -5

2.00 x10 -5

1.80 x10-5

Electrical
Conductivity
(W/mK)

0.026

0.01
7

0.15094

0.026184

Density
(kg/m 3 )

1.165

1.75
0

0.16124

1.1265

T hermal
Conductivity
(k -W/(mK))

0.025

0.01
63

0.142

0.024

Speed of
Sound (m/s)

349

267

1007

349

V.

RESULT S AND DISCUSSION

Fig. 1 shows the meshing design of a microcantilever model. Normal meshing is conducted on the on
the whole enclosed micro-cantilever structure. The
maximum element size selected is 8. The design was
simulated on the computational machine having 3.2 GHz
processor speed. The virtual memory used while simulation
was 2.9 GB. Normal meshing is selected to reduce the
computational load.

Fig. 1. Micro-cantilever enclosed in a gaseous atmosphere.

-180-

ICETACS 2013

The change in displacement due to +10 volts applied


dc voltage is shown in Fig. 2. This graph indicates that
there is change in displacement of the free end of the
micro-cantilever beam and hence has its effect on its
vibrations due to various gases.

REFERENCES
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Fig. 2. Change in displacement of micro-cantilever beam for 10 volts dc


supply.

[6]

The comparison of stress for different gases is also


shown in Fig. 3. The graph clearly indicates the same trend
as is shown for the displacement. Both, the change in
displacement and the stress on the surface of the cantilever
beam vary with the variation in the dynamic viscosity of the
gas.

[7]

[8]
[9]
[10]

[11]
[12]
[13]

[14]

Fig. 3. Surface stress on micro-cantilever for different gases.

VI.

CONCLUSION

[15]

In this paper, the geometrical dimensions of


piezoelectric micro-cantilever are analyzed using finite
element analysis technique to obtain optimal performance as
gas sensor. The piezoelectric micro-cantilever yields the
highest displacement and surface stress for helium and the
dynamic viscosity for this gas are greater than the others.
The result shows variation in the displacement and surface
stress in accordance with the variation in the dynamic
viscosity for the gases. Thus the micro-cantilever is sensitive
to the dynamic viscosity of the gases.

[16]

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