National Physical Laboratory

Metrology on a Chip

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are being used by the Materials team to miniaturise and replicate on the micro-scale, an industry standard metrology technique for determining the piezoelectric coefficients of bulk samples.

MEMS

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are being used by NPL's Materials team to miniaturise and replicate on the micro-scale, an industry standard metrology technique for determining the piezoelectric coefficients of bulk samples.

The Berlincourt method, as it is known, applies an oscillatory force to a piezoelectric sample, and the resultant charge developed across the piezoelectric device is compared to the charge produced on a calibrated reference sample.

MEMS devices, designed and simulated at NPL using Coventorware software were fabricated using a bulk and surface micromachining process at the US foundry MEMSCAP. The devices use thermal bimorph actuation techniques to apply the necessary force to the piezoelectric and are capable of probing the properties of samples with lateral dimensions ranging from a few millimetres down to ~10 micrometres. This is the first metrological technique capable of measuring the direct piezoelectric effect at these length scales, and will be an important tool in determining the effects of size reduction of functional materials, and how ferroelectrics can be integrated into micro-scale devices.

Find out more about NPL's work in Functional Materials

For more information, please contact Jenny Wooldridge

Last Updated: 2 May 2012
Created: 17 Aug 2011