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A novel capacitive pressure sensor based on sandwich structures

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4 Author(s)
Min-Xin Zhou ; Key Lab. of MEMS of Minist. of Educ., Southeast Univ., Nanjing, China ; Qing-An Huang ; Ming Qin ; Wei Zhou

This paper presents a sandwich structure for a capacitive pressure sensor. The sensor was fabricated by a simple three-mask process and sealed in vacuum by anodic bonding. The sensor, which utilizes a combined SiO2/Si3N4 layers as the elastic dielectric layers, exhibits high sensitivity. Mechanical characteristics of the sensor are theoretically analyzed based on a composite membrane theory and evaluated by use of finite element analysis (FEA). Square membrane sensors with side lengths of 800 μm, 1000 μm, 1200 μm, and 1500 μm were fabricated, providing a measured sensitivity of 0.08 pF/kPa, 0.12 pF/kPa, 0.15 pF/kPa, and 0.2 pF/kPa, respectively. The nonlinearity of the sensor is less than 1.2% over a dynamic range 80-106 kPa and the maximum hysteresis is about 3.3% to the full scale capacitance change. The TCO at 101 kPa is 1923 ppm/°C. All the electrodes of the sensor are leaded from the top side of the chip. Residual pressure in the sealed cavity at room temperature is evaluated by a pressure scanning test, indicating about 8 kPa. Comparison of experimental results with theoretical analysis shows that change of capacitance for the sandwich structure under pressure is mainly due to variation of the dielectric constant while geometric variations such as the area change of electrodes and the thickness change of dielectric layers is about two orders less than the variation of the dielectric constant. Sensitivity enhancements for the sensor are qualitatively discussed based on the physical effects of strained dielectrics, including electrostriction and flexoelectricity. [1551].

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 6 )