Design, Fabrication, and Testing of VDP MEMS Pressure Sensors

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In this paper, a four-terminal piezoresistive sensor commonly known as a van der Pauw (VDP) structure is presented for its application to MEMS pressure sensing. In a recent study, our team has determined the relation between the biaxial stress state and the piezoresistive response of a VDP structure by combining the VDP resistance equations with the equations governing silicon piezoresistivity and has proposed a new piezoresistive pressure sensor. It was observed that the sensitivity of the VDP sensor is over three times higher than the conventional filament type Wheatstone bridge resistor. To check our theoretical findings, we fabricated several (100) silicon diaphragms with both the VDP sensors and filament resistor sensors on the same wafer so both the sensor elements have same doping concentration. Several diaphragms had VDP sensors of different sizes and orientations to find out their geometric effects on pressure sensitivity. The diaphragms were subjected to known pressures, and the pressure sensitivities of both types of sensors were measured using an in-house built calibration setup. It was found that the VDP devices had a linear response to pressure as expected, and were more sensitive than the resistor sensors. Also, the VDP sensors provided a number of additional advantages, such as its size independent sensitivity and simple fabrication steps due to its simple geometry.



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