Novel threshold pressure sensors based on nonlinear dynamics of MEMS resonators

Mohammad H. Hasan, Fadi M. Alsaleem, Hassen M. Ouakad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Triggering an alarm in a car for low air-pressure in the tire or tripping an HVAC compressor if the refrigerant pressure is lower than a threshold value are examples for applications where measuring the amount of pressure is not as important as determining if the pressure has exceeded a threshold value for an action to occur. Unfortunately, current technology still relies on analog pressure sensors to perform this functionality by adding a complex interface (extra circuitry, controllers, and/or decision units). In this paper, we demonstrate two new smart tunable-threshold pressure switch concepts that can reduce the complexity of a threshold pressure sensor. The first concept is based on the nonlinear subharmonic resonance of a straight double cantilever microbeam with a proof mass and the other concept is based on the snap-through bi-stability of a clamped-clamped MEMS shallow arch. In both designs, the sensor operation concept is simple. Any actuation performed at a certain pressure lower than a threshold value will activate a nonlinear dynamic behavior (subharmonic resonance or snap-through bi-stability) yielding a large output that would be interpreted as a logic value of ONE, or ON. Once the pressure exceeds the threshold value, the nonlinear response ceases to exist, yielding a small output that would be interpreted as a logic value of ZERO, or OFF. A lumped, single degree of freedom model for the double cantilever beam, that is validated using experimental data, and a continuous beam model for the arch beam, are used to simulate the operation range of the proposed sensors by identifying the relationship between the excitation signal and the critical cut-off pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065007
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 27 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • electrical resonance
  • electrostatic MEMS resonator
  • voltage amplification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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