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Disruptive FBAR Lab Instrument

Quartz Crystal Microbalances (QCM) were the first piezoelectric resonator based sensor technology to be commercially successful, the technology exploits the principles of the resonator changing its frequency based upon mass loading or visco-elastic property changes. 

The 70 year old QCM technology generally takes the form of laboratory instrumentation, with academic and commercial laboratories finding value in the data available for applications such as materials testing, surface treatment testing, substance analysis etc. These applications are met by current state of the art QCM instruments measuring mass loading, visco-elasticity and dissipation, with the resonator operating in the MHz ranges providing mass sensitivity in the nano-gram range.  

Despite the continued development, QCM technology is ultimately limited to low frequencies based upon the fragility of the quartz plates used. The inability to thin the quartz plate further without it shattering, results in a failure to unlock higher frequencies and thus lower sensitivities.  

Worcester Scientific is currently producing a QCM replacement laboratory instrument. Acting on the same principles as QCM, the FBAR technology can fulfill the same applications as QCM technology but provides a much greater analytical range, with mass sensitivity in the femtogram range.  

The sensitivity of FBAR sensors is achieved via a converse method to QCM technology, by utilising a bottom up approach the FBAR’s thin film layers are built up rather than milled down in the case of QCM’s. Adopting this approach offers users customisable frequencies and so sensitivity, helping tailor the laboratory instrument to the specific application. Supplementary benefits of FBAR devices are their simplified CMOS integration, low cost of manufacture and small size.  

FBAR laboratory instruments are a market disruptor to QCM instruments, which currently hold a market value estimated at £7 million. With the appropriate collaboration the technology is available to be adapted into a modular cartridge design from the solid array format which is currently resides in, allowing cross use with other analytical instruments. 

To enquire about FBAR laboratory instrumentation, contact: info@worcesterscientific.com