, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 229-236

Surface properties of solids and surface acoustic waves: Application to chemical sensors and layer characterization

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Abstract

A general phenomenological approach is given for the description of mechanical surface properties of solids and their influence on surface acoustic wave propogation. Surface properties under consideration may be changes of the stress distribution in subsurface atomic layers, the presence of adsorbed gas molecules, surface degradation as a result of impacts from an aggressive environment, damage due to mechanical manufacturing or polishing, deposition of thin films or liquid layers, surface corrugations, etc. If the characteristic thickness of the affected layers is much less than the wavelengths of the propagating surface waves, then the effects of all these irregularities can be described by means of non-classical boundary conditions incorporating the integral surface parameters such as surface tension, surface moduli of elasticity and surface mass density. The effect of surface properties on the propagation of Rayleigh surface waves is analysed in comparison with the results of traditional approaches, in particular with Auld's energy perturbation method. One of the important implications of the above-mentioned boudnary conditions is that they are adequate for the description of the effect of rarely distributed adsorbed atoms or molecules. This allows, in particular, to obtain a rigorous theoretical description of chemical sensors using surface acoustic waves and to derive analytical expressions for their sensitivity.