Temperature-compensated silicon-based bulk acoustic resonators
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Microelectromechanical resonators have found widespread applications in timing, sensing and spectral processing. One of the important performance metrics of MEMS resonators is the temperature sensitivity of their frequency. The main objective of this dissertation is the compensation and control of the temperature sensitivity of silicon resonators through engineering of device geometry and structural composition. This has been accomplished through formation of composite platforms or novel geometries based on dispersion characteristics of guided acoustic waves in single crystalline silicon (SCS) microstructures. Furthermore, another objective of this dissertation is to develop efficient longitudinal piezoelectric transduction for in-plane resonance modes of SCS resonators that have lithographically-defined frequencies, to reduce their motional resistance (Rm). A uniformly distributed matrix of silicon dioxide pillars is embedded inside the silicon substrate to form a homogenous composite silicon-oxide platform (SilOx) with nearly perfect temperature-compensated stiffness moduli. Temperature-stable micro-resonators implemented in SilOx platform operating in any desired in- and out-of-plane resonance modes show full compensation of linear temperature coefficient of frequency (TCF). Overall frequency drifts as small as 80 ppm has been achieved over the industrial temperature range (-40°C to 80°C) showing a 40x improvement compared to uncompensated native silicon resonators. A 27 MHz temperature-compensated MEMS oscillator implemented using SilOx resonator demonstrated sub-ppm instability over the industrial temperature range. Besides this, a new formulation of different resonance modes of SCS resonators based on their constituent acoustic waves is presented in this dissertation. This enables engineering of the acoustic resonator to provide several resonance modes with mechanical energy trapped in central part of the resonator, thus obviating narrow tethers traditionally used for anchoring the cavity to the substrate. This facilitates simultaneous piezoelectric-transduction of multiple modes with different TCFs through independent electrical ports, which can realize highly accurate self-temperature sensing of the device using a beat frequency (fb) generated from linear combination of different modes. Piezoelectrically-transduced multi-port silicon resonators implemented using this technique provide highly temperature-sensitive fb with a large TCF of ~8500 ppm/°C showing 100x improvement compared to other Quartz/MEMS counterparts, suggesting these devices as highly sensitive temperature sensors for environmental sensing and temperature-compensated/oven-controlled crystal oscillator (TCXO/OCXO) applications. Another part of this dissertation introduces a novel longitudinal piezoelectric transduction technique developed for implementation of low Rm silicon resonators operating in lithographically defined in-plane modes. Aluminum nitride films deposited on the sidewalls of thick silicon microstructures provides efficient electromechanical transduction required to achieve low Rm. 100 MHz SCS bulk acoustic resonators implemented using this transduction technique demonstrates Rm of 33Ω showing a 100x improvement compared to electrostatically transduced counterparts. Low-loss narrow-band filters with tunable bandwidth and frequency have been implemented by electrical coupling of these devices, showing their potential for realization of truly reconfigurable and programmable filter arrays required for software-defined radios.