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Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

Finite Element Analysis of Resonant Frequencies in Surface Acoustic Wave Devices

G. Scheerschmidt *1 , K.J. Kirk 1 and G. McRobbie 2

Microscale Sensors, University of Paisley, 1 School of Engineering and Science, 2 School of Computing, Paisley, Scotland, UK

*Corresponding author postal address: School of Engineering and Science, University of Paisley, Paisley, PA1 2BE, Scotland, UK, email address: guido.scheerschmidt@paisley.ac.uk

Abstract: This document presents a way to model the resonances for magnetostrictive Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) devices with the structural mechanics module of Comsol Multiphysics. Lamb and surface modes were identified by simulation of the frequency response. A first approach was also taken to introduce damping to the model. The results from the model were compared to the data from a real device obtained by two different measurement methods. Laser vibrometry was used to measure the surface displacement over the operating frequency range of the device. A network analyser was deployed in the frequency sweep mode to determine the impedance of the device. The resonances found in the model corresponding to surface modes agree with the resonances excited in the real device.

Keywords: Lamb Waves, Resonant Frequency, Surface Acoustic Wave Devices, Surface Displacement, Thin Plate

1. Introduction

Surface acoustic waves propagate on the surface of solids. The velocity of the surface wave depends on the material parameters such as elasticity and density. The displacement has a main component parallel to the plane in direction of the surface normal [1]. One advantage of SAWs, which are also known as Rayleigh waves, is the low attenuation while travelling in a solid. In addition, they are non-dispersive, this means the velocity remains constant at different frequencies. The facts that the wave travels with a relatively low velocity (order of 10 3 m/s -1 ), compared to electromagnetic waves, made them interesting for signal processing applications as filters and delay lines could be miniaturised. Furthermore they are used for wireless interrogation and sensing applications [2].

Such signal processing components are called Surface Acoustic Wave devices. They consist of a piezoelectric substrate with two Inter Digital Transducers (IDT) on top. The IDT looks like two interlaced combs Fig. 1(c). If a periodic electrical signal is applied to an IDT the electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy due to the piezoelectric effect. The material is harmonically stressed and strained. This gives rise to Surface Acoustic Waves. The waves travel along the surface toward the second IDT separated by a few millimetres distance from the first one. There the mechanical energy is converted back to electrical energy due to the reciprocal piezoelectric effect. With the centre to centre distance - the spacing - between the elements of an IDT the wavelength can be set and therefore the operating frequency range. Piezoelectrically activated SAW devices are well explored; however it was proposed to interchange the piezoelectric active material with magnetostrictive material [3] [4]. Advantages of the magnetostrictively activated SAW device are the low temperature film deposition, ease of fabrication and low voltage operation.

2. The Magnetostictive Micro Device

For the magnetostrictively activated SAW device two designs are possible, the parallel strip line Fig. 1(a) and the meander line transducer Fig. 1(b). In other words, it needs to be assured that an electrical current can flow through the electrodes. The current generates a periodic magnetic field around the track. This causes a periodic magneto-mechanical effect, which generates the SAW.

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham Figure 1. Illustration of the

Figure 1. Illustration of the two possible designs for magnetic SAW devices, (a) the parallel strip line transducer, (b) the meander line transducer. The piezoelectric IDT (c) has same spacing S as magnetic SAW devices, but half the wavelength.

The magneto-mechanical effect is induced by the magnetostrictive effect, which is the change in dimension of a ferromagnetic material by the presence of a magnetic field [5]. The change of the shape results from the ordering process of the dipoles inside the ferromagnetic material due to the magnetic field as shown in Fig. 2. The stress and strain resulting from contraction and expansion is coupled into the substrate. Waves result from this process. The resulting particle displacement is maximum at resonance.

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham Figure 1. Illustration of the

Figure 2. Principle of magnetostriction. The dark gray shape symbolises a magnetic solid. (a) shows solid with randomly ordered domains. (b) shows aligned domains in presence of magnetic field. The length change dl is visible when comparing the two cases.

3. Simulation

Simulation of magnetostriction has been approached by modeling basic structures of MEMS such as a magnetostrictive bimorph beam [6]. However, for magnetostrictively activated SAW devices the model is more complex. Therefore simplification was made to investigate the resonant frequencies of the device. The plane stress mode from the structural mechanics

module of Comsol Multiphysics was chosen to analyses the device performance. Simplification of the real device structure was taken by permitting the model to be two dimensional only as shown in Fig. 3 [7]. Further reduction of the model to the smallest possible subsection of the device helped to reduce processing time for the model to be solved. However, the thickness dimension of the model represents the real device with 500μm substrate thickness, 100μm track width, and 300μm spacing (centre to centre distance of the tracks). The structure repeats itself at the vertical boundaries. The rectangular shaped cross-section was divided into three equally sized sub- domains, processing the material properties of silicon. The two upper nodes of the middle subdomains correspond to the edges of the metal electrode. To those two nodes harmonic loads in the plane of the substrate were applied. This should closely simulate the expansion and contraction caused by the magneto-mechanical effect in the magnetic film.

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham Figure 1. Illustration of the

Figure 3. Illustration of the relation of the real device to the model.

The boundary conditions should

allow

both

flexural and surface modes. This

can

be

accomplished by setting constraints in the x-

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

direction for the vertical boundaries of the model. Internal boundaries between subdomains as well as the top and bottom boundaries had no constraints. These boundaries were permitted to move in x and y direction. Two analysis types were used. Eigenfrequency analysis helped to find the undamped eigenfrequencies and mode of deformation. The frequency response analysis solves for the steady state response from harmonic excitation and uses the Rayleigh model for frequency dependent damping. Since Comsol 3.3 the package also allows damping to be modelled using a loss factor, e.g. if Rayleigh damping coefficients are unknown. After computing the undamped frequency response analysis, the modes of deformation were analysed in the post-processing mode. Displacement magnitude in x and y directions were plotted against frequency. Several peaks were found. Flexural modes were identified at 14.2MHz (A0) and 14.5MHz (S0) as shown in Fig. 4, and at 17MHz (A1) and 21MHz (S1) as shown in Fig. 5. The surface modes occur at 28MHz and 58MHz as shown in Fig. 6.

(a) (b)
(a)
(b)

Figure 4. (a) A0 mode at 14.2MHz (b) S0 mode at 14.5MHz. Model with 300μm centre to centre distance between metal strips and 500μm silicon substrate.

(a) (b) Figure 5. (a) A1 mode around 17MHz (b) S1 mode at
(a)
(b)
Figure 5. (a) A1 mode around 17MHz (b) S1 mode at
21MHz. (a) (b) Figure 6. SAW modes (a) around 28MHz (wavelength is half the spacing) and
21MHz.
(a)
(b)
Figure
6.
SAW
modes
(a)
around
28MHz
(wavelength
is
half
the
spacing)
and
(b)
around

58MHz (wavelength is a quarter of the spacing).

disp. in x- direction [a.u.]

2.0E+07

1.4E+07

1.8E+07

1.2E+07

1.6E+07

1.0E+07

2.2E+07

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

As a surface mode was expected at 16MHz considering v=fλ with λ equal to the spacing of the metal strips, this surface mode is suppressed. In fact running the simulation for various substrate thicknesses showed that the A0 and S0 modes converge with increasing substrate thickness and are replaced by a SAW when the substrate thickness becomes greater than twice the spacing (Fig. 7) [7].

disp. in x- direction [a.u.] 2.0E+07 1.4E+07 1.8E+07 1.2E+07 1.6E+07 1.0E+07 2.2E+07 Excerpt from the Proceedings

900

800

700

600

500

400

300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 substrate thickness [nm]
300
400
500
600
700
800
900
1000
substrate thickness [nm]

1.00E-06

1.00E-09

1.00E-12

Frequency [MHz]

300

Figure 7. Influence of substrate thickness on the occurrence of different flexural modes.

To estimate the surface displacement the damping needed to be taken into account. An attempt to obtain the Rayleigh damping coefficients led to no satisfying results, therefore a loss factor was introduced to model constant damping over the chosen frequency range. Fig. 8 shows that only two significant resonances remained, at 14MHz and 28MHz. This meant the flexural modes were almost suppressed.

1.00E-06 2.4E-09 1.00E-07 2.0E-09 1.6E-09 1.00E-08 1.2E-09 1.00E-09 8.0E-10 1.00E-10 4.0E-10 0.0E+00 1.00E-11 4 9 14
1.00E-06
2.4E-09
1.00E-07
2.0E-09
1.6E-09
1.00E-08
1.2E-09
1.00E-09
8.0E-10
1.00E-10
4.0E-10
0.0E+00
1.00E-11
4
9
14
19
24
29
disp. amp. y direction [u.a.]
disp. amp. y direction [a.u.]

Frequency [MHz]

Figure 8. Comparison between simulation with loss factor 0.05 (left bar) and without loss factor (right bar) for 300μm spacing and 500μm substrate thickness.

4. Performance Measurements of SAW Devices

The performance of SAW devices can be determined by either measuring the impedance of the device or the surface displacement. The impedance was acquired by deploying a network analyzer. Fig. 9 [7] shows the resonances in the frequency range 1-60MHz. Significant resonances are visible at 9MHz,

28MHz and 60MHz. The resonances at 28MHz

and 60MHz agree with the model and were

identified as Rayleigh modes. The resonance at

  • 1000 9MHz was found when solving the model with the eigenfrequency analysis. This is a symmetric Lamb wave mode with wavelength twice the spacing as shown in Fig. 10.

2000 5 1800 1600 0 1400 1200 -5 1000 800 -10 600 400 -15 200 0
2000
5
1800
1600
0
1400
1200
-5
1000
800
-10
600
400
-15
200
0
-20
0
5
10
15
20
25
30 35 40
45 50
55 60 65
Magnitude Impedance |Z0| [Ω]
Differential of |Z0| [a. u.]

Frequency [MHz]

Figure 9. Impedance graph for Mu-metal device on 500μm silicon substrate with 300μm spacing. Three significant resonances are visible. The differential of the impedance delivers peaks for weaker resonances.

disp. in x- direction [a.u.] 2.0E+07 1.4E+07 1.8E+07 1.2E+07 1.6E+07 1.0E+07 2.2E+07 Excerpt from the Proceedings

Figure 10. Symmetric mode around 9MHz obtainable using eigenmode analysis. Wavelength is twice the spacing of the device.

As a change of the device impedance is not

necessarily

related

to

a

change

of

the

displacement

an

optical

measurement

was

Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

carried out. Laser vibrometry was used to find evidence of the surface displacement caused by the magneto-mechanical effect. The operating range of the laser vibrometer is limited to 32MHz. However, two significant resonances were traced at 9MHz and around 28MHz as shown in Fig. 11 [7]. The form of the graph resembles the simulation using damping.

0.5 0.45 0.4 0.35 0.3 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 0 5 10 15 20
0.5
0.45
0.4
0.35
0.3
0.25
0.2
0.15
0.1
0.05
0
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
displacement [nm]

Frequency [MHz]

Figure 11. Displacement curve obtained with laser vibrometer from Mu-metal sample with 300μm spacing between metal strips and 500μm thick silicon substrate.

  • 5. Conclusions

This paper has shown that the structural mechanics module of Comsol Multiphysics helps to predict and identify resonances of magnetic micro devices with parallel strip transducer layout. The obtained results from the model agree with the measured resonances of the real device using two different measurement techniques. Surface acoustic modes were identified at 28MHz and 58MHz. Flexural modes were identified with respect to different substrate thicknesses. In addition, the model helped to predict surface displacement by the use of a constant loss factor.

  • 6. References

  • 1. J.D.N. Cheeke, “Fundamentals and

Application of Ultrasonic Waves”, p. 144, CRC Press (2002)

  • 2. L. Reindle, R. Steindl, Ch. Hausleitner, A.

Pohl, G. Scholl, “Wireless passive radio sensors”, SENSOR 2001, Proc. SENSOR’ 2001, Vol. 1, pp. 331-336 (2001)

  • 3. F.W. Voltmer, R.M. White, C.W. Turner,

“Magnetostrictive generation of surface elastic waves” Appl. Phys. Letters, Vol. 15, No. 5, pp.

153-154 (1969)

  • 4. K.A. Ellis, R.B. Dover, T.J. Klemmer and

G.B. Allers, “Magnetically transduced surface acoustic wave devices”, J. Appl. Phys., Vol. 87, No. 9, pp. 6304-6306 (2000)

  • 5. D. Jiles, “Introduction to Magnetism and

Magnetic Materials” pp. 98, Chapman and Hall

(1991)

  • 6. J. Dean, M.R.J. Gibbs, T. Schrefl, “Finite-

element analysis on cantilever beam coated with

magnetostrictive material”, IEEE Transactions

on Magnetics, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 283-288

(2006)

  • 7. G. Scheerschmidt, K.J. Kirk, G. McRobbie,

“Investigation of magnetostrictive micro

devices” IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, under

submission (2006)

  • 7. Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank previous students involved with fabrication of the devices, especially Susan Turnbull, Sebastian Cwikla and Graeme Doherty.