In this paper, the design of MEMS piezoresistive out-of-plane shear and normal stress sensor is described. To improve the sensor sensitivity, a methodology by the incorporation of stress concentration regions, namely surface trenches in the proximity of sensing elements was explored in detail. The finite element (FE) model, verified by a five-layer analytical model was developed as a tool to model the performance of the sensor and guide the geometric optimization of the surface trenches. Optimum location and dimensions of the surface trenches have been obtained through a comprehensive FE analysis. The microfabrication and packing scheme was introduced to prototype the sensor with optimum geometric characteristics of surface trenches. Signal output from the prototyped sensor was tested and compared with those from FE simulation. Good agreement has been achieved between the simulation and experimental results. Moreover, the results suggest the incorporation of surface trenches can help improve the sensor sensitivity. More specifically, the sum of signal output from the sensor chip with surface trenches are 4.52, 5.06 and 5.72 times higher compared to flat sensor chip for center sensing area, edge sensing areas 1 and 2, respectively.
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