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Design and Computational Analysis of Diaphragm-based Piezoresistive Pressure Sensors for Integration into Undergraduate Curriculum

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Laboratory Experiences with Thermal and Chemical Systems and Sensors

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.386.1 - 25.386.9



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Paper Authors

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Alexander Joseph Plotkowski Grand Valley State University


Lihong (Heidi) Jiao Grand Valley State University

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Lihong (Heidi) Jiao is currently an Associate Professor in the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University. She received her B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. from Nankai University, China and Ph.D in electrical engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. Her teaching interests include solid state device physics and fabrication, nanotechnology, and fiber optics. Her research activities include fabrication and characterization of amorphous silicon solar cells, organic solar cells, organic light emitting diodes (OLED), and thin film transistors (TFT).

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Nael Barakat Grand Valley State University

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Nael Barakat is the mechanical engineering Program Chair at GVSU, a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario, Canada, and a fellow of the ASME. He joined academia in 2003 after years of industrial experience and consulting. Barakat holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from McMaster University, Canada. His areas of interest include controls, robotics, automation, systems integration, metrology, and NEMS, as well as engineering ethics, professionalism, and education.

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Design and computational analysis of diaphragm based piezoresistive pressure sensors for integration into undergraduate curriculumIn order to expand undergraduate education in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), aseries of sensors were designed with the intent of being integrated into the laboratory portion of acourse on the subject. The majority of the design work was focused around piezoresistive,diaphragm based pressure sensors, utilizing multiple diaphragm sizes and geometries. Thesesensors were chosen for the geometrical simplicity and their ability to be manufactured usingstandard photolithography techniques. While analytical solutions for the stress in suchdiaphragms under a uniform applied pressure exist, they are very complex. In order to gain adeeper understanding of the stress distribution in order to make design decisions, Finite ElementAnalysis (FEA) was used. The analytical models were used to validate the FEA model, and oncethis was accomplished, multiple iterations were performed in order to gain an understanding ofthe stress variation with diaphragm size, geometry, and thickness. The results of thesesimulations were used to optimize the placement of the piezoresistors and to assess the effect ofprocess variation in the size and thickness of the diaphragm on the overall performance of thedevice. This analysis procedure aided in the design of pressure sensors with two differentdiaphragm geometries in three different sizes each with characteristic lengths ranging from 200to 500 μm with a thickness of 10 μm. The FEA model and the design process developed in thiswork will be implemented in the Fall of 2011 with full undergraduate laboratory integrationplanned for the Fall of 2012.

Plotkowski, A. J., & Jiao, L. H., & Barakat, N. (2012, June), Design and Computational Analysis of Diaphragm-based Piezoresistive Pressure Sensors for Integration into Undergraduate Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21144

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