Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 6, 87–96, 2017

Special issue: Sensors and Measurement Systems 2016

J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 6, 87–96, 2017

Regular research article 13 Feb 2017

Regular research article | 13 Feb 2017

The concept of thin film bulk acoustic resonators as selective CO2 gas sensors

Romy Hoffmann1,2, Matthias Schreiter1, and Johannes Heitmann2 Romy Hoffmann et al.
  • 1Siemens Corporate Technology, 81739 Munich, Germany
  • 2Institute for Applied Physics, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, 09599 Freiberg, Germany

Abstract. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas that well represents air quality in indoor environments as well as being an important greenhouse gas. However, the reliable and affordable sensing of environmental CO2 at room temperature, with techniques other than optical spectroscopy, remains an unsolved problem to this day. One major challenge for solid state sensors is the realisation of adequate selectivity, especially towards changing humidity. The thin film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) is a MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) device that can not only detect gas-induced mass changes but also changes in the acoustic velocity and density of its layers. This multi-sensing provides a suitable platform for selective gas sensing. In this work we present studies done on polyaminosiloxane- and ethyl cellulose-functionalised FBARs regarding CO2 sensitivity, selectivity towards humidity, and stability. We demonstrate how CO2 and humidity signals can be separated and that CO2 can be sensed with a resolution of 50 ppm between 400 and 1000 ppm. Using the Mason model, we show how the acoustic velocity and density of an absorption layer can be determined and how changes in those parameters affect the resonance frequency shift. The understanding of these results ultimately presents a tool to theoretically separate any number of gas analytes.

Short summary
Carbon dioxide is a main greenhouse gas and a gas that well-represents air quality. Therefore, it is important to monitor the CO2 concentration in air. Creating an affordable and reliable CO2 sensor is the purpose of this paper. Using a mass-sensitive acoustic sensor (FBAR) we can detect increasing CO2 concentration by a mass increase on the sensor surface. As humidity changes often interfere with these signals the selection of CO2 over humidity changes is another topic addressed in this paper.