A piezoelectric Microelectromechanical system (MEMS) cantilever pressure sensor was designed, modeled, fabricated, and tested for sensing the photoacoustic response of gases to terahertz (THz) radiation. The sensing layers were comprised of three thin films; a lead zirconate titanate (PZT) piezoelectric layer sandwiched between two metal contact layers. The sensor materials were deposited on the silicon device layer of a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer, which formed the physical structure of the cantilever. To release the cantilever, a hole was etched through the backside of the wafer and the buried oxide was removed with hydrofluoric acid. Devices were then tested in a custom made THz vacuum test chamber. Cantilever deflection was observed with a laser interferometer in the test chamber and preliminary data indicates the signals were caused by the photoacoustic effect. Future device data will also include the piezoelectric voltage signal analysis.
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