National Physical Laboratory

Vertical comb drive actuator for the measurement of piezoelectric coefficients in small-scale systems.

Wooldridge, J, Muniz-Piniella, A, Stewart, M, Shean, T A V, Weaver, P M, Cain, M G
J. Micromechan. Microeng., 2013, 23, (3), 035028
NPL Doc. Ref:
PDB: 6616 | DDB: 5472
Document Type:
Periodical article

Note: An asterisk after an author's name indicates a non-NPL author.


A MEMS vertical levitation comb drive actuator has been created for the measurement of piezoelectric coefficients in thin/thick films or piezoelectrically active micro-scale components of other MEMS devices. The device exerts a dynamic force of 33 µN at an applied voltage of 100V. The charge developed on the piezoelectric test device is measured using a charge sensitive pre-amplifier and lock-in technique, enabling measurements down to 1×10-5pC. The system was tested with ten different piezoelectric samples with coefficients in the range 70-1375pCN-1 and showed a good correlation to measurements performed with macroscopic applied stresses, and piezoelectric impedance resonance techniques. The measurement of the direct piezoelectric effect in micro- and nano-scale piezo-materials has been made possible using MEMS processing technology. A new MEMS metrology device has been developed and fully characterised in order to accurately evaluate the functional properties of piezoelectric materials at the scale required in micro to nanoscale applications.

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