High frequency surface acoustic wave resonator-based sensor for particulate matter detection

Sanju Thomas, Marina Cole, Farah H Villa-López, Julian W Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
156 Downloads (Pure)


This paper describes the characterization of high frequency Surface Acoustic Wave Resonator based (SAWR) sensors, for the detection of micron and sub-micron sized particles. The sensor comprises two 262 MHz ST-cut quartz based Rayleigh wave SAWRs where one is used for particle detection and the other as reference. Electro-acoustic detection of different sized particles shows a strong relationship between mass sensitivity (Δf/Δm) and particle diameter (Dp). This enables frequency-dependent SAWR sensitivity to be tailored to the size of particles, thus making these types of sensors good candidates for PM10, PM2.5 and ultrafine particle (UFP) sensing. Our initial characterisation demonstrated a typical SAWR frequency shift of 60 Hz in response to a deposition of ca. 0.21 ng of 0.75 μm-sized gold particles (∼50 particles) on the sensor surface. Sensor responses to different sized particles, such as ∼30 μm diameter silicon, gold (diameters of ∼0.75 μm and ∼20 μm), ∼8 μm fine sugar, PTFE (∼1 μm and ∼15 μm), ∼4 μm talcum powder, and ∼2 μm molybdenum powder were evaluated, and an average mass sensitivity of 275 Hz/ng was obtained. Based on the results obtained in this study we believe that acoustic wave technology has great potential for application in airborne particle detection. Moreover, acoustic resonator devices can be integrated with CMOS interface circuitry to obtain sensitive, robust, low-power and low-cost particle detectors for a variety of applications including outdoor environmental monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalSensors and Actuators A: Physical
Early online date6 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Particulate matter detection
  • Surface acoustic wave resonator
  • Particle sensor
  • Ultrafine particles
  • High frequency SAWR sensor
  • PM10 PM2.5


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