, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 739-746
Date: 11 Dec 2007

Micromachined SiO2 microcantilever for high sensitive moisture sensor

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Abstract

Ultra-sensitive and selective moisture sensors are needed in various industries for processing control or environmental monitoring. As an outstanding sensor platform, surface-stress sensing microcantilevers have potential application in moisture detection. To enlarge the deflection of the microcantilever under surface stress induced by specific reactions, a new SiO2 microcantilever is developed which features a much lower Young’s modulus than conventional Si or SiNx microcantilevers. For comparing SiO2 cantilever with Si cantilevers, a model of the cantilever sensor is given by using both analysis and simulation, resulting in good agreement with the experimental data. The results demonstrate the SiO2 cantilever can achieve a much higher sensitivity than the Si cantilever. In order to fabricate this device, a new fabrication process using isotropic combined with anisotropic dry etching to release the SiO2 microcantilever beam by ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) was developed and investigated. This new process not only obtains a high etch rate at 9.1 μm/min, but also provides good profile controllability, and a flexibility of device design. Attributed to the high sensitivity, a significant deflection amplitude of the surface modified SiO2 microcantilever was observed upon exposure to 1% relative humidity. The SiO2 cantilevers are promising for inexpensive and highly sensitive moisture detection.