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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

First Advisor

Michele H Miller


Gas sensors have been used widely in different important area including industrial control, environmental monitoring, counter-terrorism and chemical production. Micro-fabrication offers a promising way to achieve sensitive and inexpensive gas sensors. Over the years, various MEMS gas sensors have been investigated and fabricated. One significant type of MEMS gas sensors is based on mass change detection and the integration with specific polymer. This dissertation aims to make contributions to the design and fabrication of MEMS resonant mass sensors with capacitance actuation and sensing that lead to improved sensitivity. To accomplish this goal, the research has several objectives:

(1) Define an effective measure for evaluating the sensitivity of resonant mass devices;

(2) Model the effects of air damping on microcantilevers and validate models using laser measurement system

(3) Develop design guidelines for improving sensitivity in the presence of air damping;

(4) Characterize the degree of uncertainty in performance arising from fabrication variation for one or more process sequences, and establish design guidelines for improved robustness.

Work has been completed toward these objectives. An evaluation measure has been developed and compared to an RMS based measure. Analytic models of air damping for parallel plate that include holes are compared with a COMSOL model. The models have been used to identify cantilever design parameters that maximize sensitivity. Additional designs have been modeled with COMSOL and the development of an analytical model for Fixed-free cantilever geometries with holes has been developed. Two process flows have been implemented and compared. A number of cantilever designs have been fabricated and the uncertainty in process has been investigated. Variability from processing have been evaluated and characterized.