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Theses Doctoral

Thin-film Bulk Acoustic Resonators on Integrated Circuits for Physical Sensing Applications

Johnston, Matthew Leigh

Merging chemical and biomolecular sensors with silicon integrated circuits has the potential to push complex electronics into a low-cost, portable platform, greatly simplifying system- level instrumentation and extending the reach and functionality of point of use technologies. One such class of sensor, the thin-film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR), has a micron-scale size and low gigahertz frequency range that is ideally matched with modern complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technologies. An FBAR sensor can enable label-free detection of analytes in real time, and CMOS integration can overcome the measurement complexity and equipment cost normally required for detection with acoustic resonators.
This thesis describes a body of work conducted to integrate an array of FBAR sensors with an active CMOS substrate. A monolithic fabrication method is developed, which allows for FBAR devices to be built directly on the top surface of the CMOS chip through post-processing. A custom substrate is designed and fabricated in 0.18 µm CMOS to support oscillation and frequency measurement for each sensor site in a 6×4 array. The fabrication of 0.8-1.5 GHz FBAR devices is validated for both off-chip and on-chip devices, and the integrated system is characterized for sensitivity and limit of detection. On-chip, parallel measurement of multiple sensors in real time is demonstrated for a quantitative vapor sensing application, and the limit of detection is below 50 ppm. This sensor platform could be used for a broad scope of label-free detection applications in chemistry, biology, and medicine, and it demonstrates potential for enabling a low-cost, point of use instrument.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Shepard, Kenneth L.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 15, 2014
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