A low frequency dual-band operational microphone mimicking the hearing property of Ormia ochracea

Zhang, Yansheng and Bauer, Ralf and Jackson, Joseph C. and Whitmer, William M. and Windmill, James F. C. and Uttamchandani, Deepak (2018) A low frequency dual-band operational microphone mimicking the hearing property of Ormia ochracea. Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, 27 (4). pp. 667-676. ISSN 1057-7157 (https://doi.org/10.1109/JMEMS.2018.2845680)

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This paper introduces a directional MEMS microphone designed for hearing aid applications appropriate to low frequency hearing impairment, inspired by the hearing mechanism of a fly, the female Ormia ochracea. It uses both piezoelectric and capacitive sensing schemes. In order to obtain a high sensitivity at low frequency bands, the presented microphone is designed to have two resonance frequencies below the threshold of low frequency hearing loss at approximately 2 kHz. One is around 500 Hz and the other is slightly above 2 kHz. The novel dual sensing mechanism allows for optimization of the microphone sensitivity at both frequencies, with a maximum open-circuit (excluding pre-amplification) acoustic response captured via differential piezoelectric sensing at approximately – 46 dB (V) ref. 94 dB (SPL) at the resonance frequencies. The corresponding minimum detectable sound pressure level is just below -12 dB. The comb finger capacitive sensing was employed due to a lower electrical response generated from a ground referenced single-ended output by the piezoelectric sensing at the first resonance frequency compared to the second resonance frequency. The capacitive sensing mechanism, connected to a charge amplifier, generates a -28.4 dB (V) ref. 94 dB (SPL) acoustic response when the device is excited at either of the two resonance frequencies. Due to the asymmetric geometry and the 400 µm thick substrate, the device is predicted to perform as a bi-directional microphone below 3 kHz, which is shown by the measured directional polar patterns.