Multiphysics Modeling of Printed Surface Acoustic Wave Thermometers

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Surface acoustic wave (SAW) transducers are a class of sensors and actuators that operate on the fundamental principle of piezoelectricity. Aerosol jet printing and other additive manufacturing techniques have resulted in the low-cost fabrication of low-power and small-footprint SAW devices that are suitable for sensing in high-temperature and radioactive environments. In this work, we developed a series of temperature-dependent finite element models for a SAW transducer consisting of printed silver interdigitated transducers (IDTs) deposited onto piezoelectric lithium niobate. Modeling accuracy was evaluated experimentally from room temperature to 200 °C using an aerosol-jet-printed SAW thermometer. A time-domain study enabled visualization of the wave propagation and successfully guided the denoising of the scattering parameter measurement. Additionally, frequency-domain models using traditional modal analysis or the unique port boundary condition feature in COMSOL Multiphysics accurately predicted the temperature-driven natural frequency drift in the SAW thermometer. The finite element models developed in this study serve to facilitate the computer-aided design of future SAW transducers for applications in harsh environments.