A Three Degree-of-Freedom Weakly Coupled Resonator Sensor With Enhanced Stiffness Sensitivity

Published in IEEE Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, 2016


This paper reports a three degree-of-freedom (3DoF) microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) resonant sensing device consisting of three weakly coupled resonators with enhanced sensitivity to stiffness change. If one resonator of the system is perturbed by an external stimulus, mode localization occurs, which can be detected by a change of modal amplitude ratio. The perturbation can be, for example, a change in stiffness of one resonator. A detailed theoretical investigation revealed that a mode aliasing effect, along with the thermal noise floor of the sensor and the associated electrical system ultimately limit the dynamic range of the sensor. The nonlinearity of the 3DoF sensor was also analyzed theoretically. The 3DoF resonator device was fabricated using a silicon on insulator process. Measurement results from a prototype device agreed well with the predictions of the analytical model. A significant, namely 49 times, improvement in sensitivity to stiffness change was evident from the fabricated 3DoF resonator sensor compared with the existing state-of-the-art 2DoF resonator sensors, while the typical nonlinearity was smaller than ±2% for a wide span of stiffness change. In addition, measurements indicate that a dynamic range of at least 39.1 dB is achievable, which could be further extended by decreasing the noise of the device and the interface electronics.