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Advances in piezoelectric thin films for acoustic biosensors, acoustofluidics and lab-on-chip applications

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Fu, YQ 
Luo, JK 
Nguyen, NT 
Walton, AJ 
Flewitt, AJ 


Recently, piezoelectric thin films including zinc oxide (ZnO) and aluminium nitride (AlN) have found a broad range of lab-on-chip applications such as biosensing, particle/cell concentrating, sorting/patterning, pumping, mixing, nebulisation and jetting. Integrated acoustic wave sensing/microfluidic devices have been fabricated by depositing these piezoelectric films onto a number of substrates such as silicon, ceramics, diamond, quartz, glass, and more recently also polymer, metallic foils and bendable glass/silicon for making flexible devices. Such thin film acoustic wave devices have great potential for implementing integrated, disposable, or bendable/flexible lab-on-a-chip devices into various sensing and actuating applications. This paper discusses the recent development in engineering high performance piezoelectric thin films, and highlights the critical issues such as film deposition, MEMS processing techniques, control of deposition/processing parametres, film texture, doping, dispersion effects, film stress, multilayer design, electrode materials/ designs and substrate selections. Finally, advances in using thin film devices for lab-on-chip applications are summarised and future development trends are identified.



piezoelectric, thin film, acoustic wave, biosensor, microfluidics, acoustofluidics, lab-on-chip, ZnO, AlN

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Progress in Materials Science

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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/F063865/1)
The authors acknowledge support from the Innovative electronic Manufacturing Research Centre (IeMRC) through the EPSRC funded flagship project SMART MICROSYSTEMS (FS/01/02/10), Knowledge Transfer Partnership No KTP010548, EPSRC project EP/L026899/1, EP/F063865/1; EP/F06294X/1, EP/P018998/1, the Royal Society-Research Grant (RG090609) and Newton Mobility Grant (IE161019) through Royal Society and NFSC, the Scottish Sensing Systems Centre (S3C), Royal Society of Edinburgh, Carnegie Trust Funding, Royal Academy of Engineering-Research Exchange with China and India, UK Fluidic Network and Special Interest Group-Acoustofluidics, the EPSRC Engineering Instrument Pool. We also acknowledge the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 61274037, 51302173), the Zhejiang Province Natural Science Fund (No. Z11101168), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2014QNA5002), EP/D03826X/1, EP/ C536630/1, GR/T24524/01, GR/S30573/01, GR/R36718/01, GR/L82090/01, BBSRC/E11140. ZXT acknowledges the supports from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (61178018) and the NSAF Joint Foundation of China (U1630126 and U1230124) and Ph.D. Funding Support Program of Education Ministry of China (20110185110007) and the NSAF Joint Foundation of China (Grant No. U1330103) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 11304209). NTN acknowledges support from Australian Research Council project LP150100153. This work was partially supported by the European Commission through the 6th FP MOBILIS and 7th FP RaptaDiag project HEALTH-304814 and by the COST Action IC1208 and by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad del Gobierno de España through projects MAT2010-18933 and MAT2013-45957R.