High-sensitivity open-loop electronics for gravimetric acoustic-wave-based sensors.

Research paper by David D Rabus, Jean-Michel JM Friedt, Sylvain S Ballandras, Gilles G Martin, Emile E Carry, Virginie V Blondeau-Patissier

Indexed on: 09 Jul '14Published on: 09 Jul '14Published in: IEEE transactions on ultrasonics, ferroelectrics, and frequency control


Detecting chemical species in gas phase has recently received an increasing interest mainly for security control, trying to implement new systems allowing for extended dynamics and reactivity. In this work, an open-loop interrogation strategy is proposed to use radio-frequency acoustic transducers as micro-balances for that purpose. The resulting system is dedicated to the monitoring of chemical compounds in gaseous or liquid-phase state. A 16 Hz standard deviation is demonstrated at 125 MHz, with a working frequency band in the 60 to 133 MHz range, answering the requirements for using Rayleigh- and Love-wave-based delay lines operating with 40-μm acoustic wavelength transducers. Moreover, this electronic setup was used to interrogate a high-overtone bulk acoustic wave resonator (HBAR) microbalance, a new sensor class allowing for multi-mode interrogation for gravimetric measurement improvement. The noise source still limiting the system performance is due to the analog-to-digital converter of the microcontroller, thus leaving open degrees-of-freedom for improving the obtained results by optimizing the voltage reference and board layout. The operation of the system is illustrated using a calibrated galvanic deposition at the surface of Love-wave delay lines to assess theoretical predictions of their gravimetric sensitivity and to compare them with HBAR-based sensor sensitivity.