Multifunctional ZnO-based thin-film bulk acoustic resonator for biosensors

Ying Chen, Pavel I. Reyes, Ziqing Duan, Gaurav Saraf, Richard Wittstruck, Yicheng Lu, Olena Taratula, Elena Galoppini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Zinc oxide (ZnO) and its ternary alloy magnesium zinc oxide (Mg x Zn 1-x O) are piezoelectric materials that can be used for high-quality-factor bulk acoustic wave (BAW) resonators operating at GHz frequencies. Thin-film bulk acoustic resonators (TFBARs) are attractive for applications in advanced communication and in various sensors as they offer the capability of monolithic integration of BAW resonators with radio-frequency integrated circuits (RF ICs). In this paper we report Mg x Zn 1-x O-based TFBAR biosensors. The devices are built on Si substrates with an acoustic mirror consisting of alternating quarter-wavelength silicon dioxide (SiO 2) and tungsten (W) layers to isolate the TFBAR from the Si substrate. High-quality ZnO and Mg x Zn 1-x O thin films are achieved through a radio-frequency (RF) sputtering technique. Tuning of the device operating frequency is realized by varying the Mg composition in the piezoelectric Mg x Zn 1-x O layer. Simulation results based on a transmission-line model of the TFBAR show close agreement with the experimental results. ZnO nanostructures are grown on the TFBAR's top surface using metal- organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) to form the nano-TFBAR sensor, which offers giant sensing area, faster response, and higher sensitivity over the planar sensor configuration. Mass sensitivity higher than 10 3 Hz cm 2/ng is achieved. In order to study the feasibility of the nano-TFBAR for biosensing, the nanostructured ZnO surfaces were functionalized to selectively immobilize DNA, as verified by hybridization with its fluorescence-tagged DNA complement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1605-1611
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Electronic Materials
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Biosensors
  • DNA immobilization
  • MgZnO
  • Nanostructures
  • Piezoelectricity
  • Thin-film resonators

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