I'd like to know what a piezoelectric sorption detector is. I can hardly find information about, only a small number of research papers which are mostly not accessable for me.

Only given from the term I cannot really imagine its functionality.


1 Answer 1


The resonance frequency of a piezo-electric "tuning fork" is influenced by the mass of adsorbed molecules.

I know this kind of instruments as piezo thickness monitors when evaporating metals in vacuum equipment. They can be very sensitive.

Edit: there is a long article on Wikipedia. I did not read it all but it explains how this works. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz_crystal_microbalance

Edit 2: Such a piezoelectric resonator can be functionalized for sorption with a coating as described in 1964 by King in his article "Piezoelectric sorption detector"

  • $\begingroup$ That was fast, thank you very much! I just want to ensure that I understand it correctly (I'm not a native speaker): Molecules or atoms get absorbed at these crystals and they produce voltage like "usually" for a piezoelectric effect? $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ That was so fast, I'm not able to accept the answer already :) $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ No. The extra mass of the adsorbed layer changes the mechanical resonance frequency of a piece of material. In this case, that resonator is like the quartz oscillator in a watch, coupled by the piezoelectric voltage to electronics. $\endgroup$
    – user137289
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, ok, thanks for clearification! Do you know any online source where I can read up a bit on this topic? $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Not exactly correct - the key difference is the ‘sorption’ part. For, say humidity, a hygroscopic layer is added to a MEMS device (could be just a simple QCM), which then makes the device more sensitive to whatever it preferentially absorbs. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 24, 2020 at 12:13

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