17 May 2013 Simulation and characterization of silicon nanopillar-based nanoparticle sensors
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Nanopillar-based structures hold promise as highly sensitive resonant mass sensors for a new generation of aerosol nanoparticle (NP) detecting devices because of their very small masses. In this work, the possible use of a silicon nanopillar (SiNPL) array as a nanoparticle sensor is investigated. The sensor structures are created and simulated using a finite element modeling (FEM) tool of COMSOL Multiphysics 4.3 to study the resonant characteristics and the sensitivity of the SiNPL for femtogram NP mass detection. Instead of using 2D plate models or simple single 3D cylindrical pillar models, FEM is performed with SiNPLs in 3D structures based on the real geometry of experimental SiNPL arrays employing a piezoelectric stack for resonant excitation. In order to achieve an optimal structure and investigate the etching effect on the fabricated resonators, SiNPLs with different designs of meshes, sidewall profiles, lengths, and diameters are simulated and analyzed. To validate the FEM results, fabricated SiNPLs with a high aspect ratio of ~60 are employed and characterized in resonant frequency measurements. SiNPLs are mounted onto a piezoactuator inside a scanning electron microscope (SEM) chamber which can excite SiNPLs into lateral vibration. The measured resonant frequencies of the SiNPLs with diameters about 650 nm and heights about 40 μm range from 434.63 kHz to 458.21 kHz, which agree well with those simulated by FEM. Furthermore, the deflection of a SiNPL can be enhanced by increasing the applied piezoactuator voltage. By depositing different NPs (i.e., carbon, TiO2, SiO2, Ag, and Au NPs) on the SiNPLs, the decrease of the resonant frequency is clearly shown confirming their potential to be used as airborne NP mass sensor with femtogram resolution level.
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Hutomo Suryo Wasisto, Hutomo Suryo Wasisto, Stephan Merzsch , Stephan Merzsch , Kai Huang , Kai Huang , Andrej Stranz , Andrej Stranz , Andreas Waag , Andreas Waag , Erwin Peiner , Erwin Peiner , "Simulation and characterization of silicon nanopillar-based nanoparticle sensors", Proc. SPIE 8763, Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS VI, 876321 (17 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2016970; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2016970

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