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Published June 2005 | Published
Journal Article Open

A parametrized three-dimensional model for MEMS thermal shear-stress sensors


This paper presents an accurate and efficient model of MEMS thermal shear-stress sensors featuring a thin-film hotwire on a vacuum-isolated dielectric diaphragm. We consider three-dimensional (3-D) heat transfer in sensors operating in constant-temperature mode, and describe sensor response with a functional relationship between dimensionless forms of hotwire power and shear stress. This relationship is parametrized by the diaphragm aspect ratio and two additional dimensionless parameters that represent heat conduction in the hotwire and diaphragm. Closed-form correlations are obtained to represent this relationship, yielding a MEMS sensor model that is highly efficient while retaining the accuracy of three-dimensional heat transfer analysis. The model is compared with experimental data, and the agreement in the total and net hotwire power, the latter being a small second-order quantity induced by the applied shear stress, is respectively within 0.5% and 11% when uncertainties in sensor geometry and material properties are taken into account. The model is then used to elucidate thermal boundary layer characteristics for MEMS sensors, and in particular, quantitatively show that the relatively thick thermal boundary layer renders classical shear-stress sensor theory invalid for MEMS sensors operating in air. The model is also used to systematically study the effects of geometry and material properties on MEMS sensor behavior, yielding insights useful as practical design guidelines.

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"© 2005 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE." Manuscript received March 15, 2004; revised June 24, 2004. Posted online: 2005-06-06. Subject Editor S. M. Spearing.

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