Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Yong Xu


Cantilever structures have been widely used in a large variety of transducer applications. For cantilever based transducers, piezoresistive/piezoelectric mechanisms has always been a popular choice due to the advantages of being low cost, simple structure and portability. However, low sensitivity is recognized as a major disadvantage of these transducers compared with optical based measurement. In this research, a gapped cantilever structure is proposed to potentially increase the sensitivity by orders of magnitude. In order to guide the design, an advanced analytical model is developed, and the increased strain sensitivity is theoretically demonstrated. In addition, optimizations with this model interestingly reveal that the gapped cantilever is much more efficient than conventional cantilever from energy perspective as well. Applications of gapped cantilever structure including piezoresistive accelerometer, vibration energy harvester and resonant mass sensor are carefully investigated in this work. Multiple prototypes of these applications both in meso-scale and micro-scale are designed, manufactured and characterized. The testing results show good agreement with theoretical expectation, and demonstrate a good potential of gapped cantilever structure for the enhancement of strain sensitivity and energy efficiency.