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This paper presents the modeling, fabrication, and testing of a high-performance dynamic strain sensor. Using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, ZnO piezoelectric microsensors are directly fabricated on silicon and steel substrates. The sensors are intended to be used as point sensors for vibration sensing without putting an extra burden on the host structures. A model that incorporates piezoelectric effects into an RC circuit, representing the sensor architecture, is developed to describe the voltage output characteristics of the piezoelectric microsensors. It is shown that the sensitivity of microplanar piezoelectric sensors that utilize the e 31 effect is linearly proportional to sensor thickness but unrelated to sensor area. Sensor characterization was performed on a cantilever beam cut from a fabricated silicon wafer. The experimental data indicate that the overall sensor and circuit system is capable of resolving better than 40.3 nanostrain time domain signal at frequencies above 2 kHz. The corresponding noise floor is lower than 200 femto-strain per root hertz and the sensitivity, defined as the sensor voltage output over strain input, is calculated to be 340 V/epsiv . Micro ZnO piezoelectric sensors fabricated on steel hard disk drive suspensions also show excellent results. The sensor not only has a better signal-to-noise ratio but also detects more vibration information than the combination of two laser-Doppler-vibrometer measurements in different directions.