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The sensitivity of four-terminal piezoresistive sensors commonly referred to as van der Pauw (VDP) structure is investigated. The VDP sensor is considered to be fabricated on (100) silicon due to its potential application in MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) pressure sensors. The sensitivity of the VDP sensor may be affected by misalignment during the etching/diffusion process, the nonuniformity of piezoresistive coefficients through the sensor thickness, and pad size with respect to the sensor size. For this particular analysis, the effect of VDP stress sensitivity on variations in pad sizes and through-the-thickness -coefficient variation are studied as the effect of misalignment has already been investigated by researchers. Two three-dimensional (3D) finite element analysis (FEA) models are first developed for both traditional VDP resistance and equivalent four-wire bridge measurements. Then, the FEA models are validated with the closed form analytical solutions for point contacts (“zero” pad size) under different biaxial loads. Once the FEA models are validated, additional simulations are conducted to understand the influence of different parameters on the voltage measurements for an equivalent four-wire bridge configuration. It is observed that pad size and through-the-thickness nonuniformity in piezoresistive constants adversely affect the sensor sensitivity.


Copyright © 2017 Awlad Hossain and Ahsan Mian. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.