2019 Bulk and Surface Acoustic Wave Sensor Arrays for Multi-Analyte Detection: A Review

Kerstin Länge

Sensors 2019, 19(24), 5382; DOI: 10.3390/s19245382


Institute of Microstructure Technology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany


Bulk acoustic wave (BAW) and surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor devices have successfully been used in a wide variety of gas sensing, liquid sensing, and biosensing applications. Devices include BAW sensors using thickness shear modes and SAW sensors using Rayleigh waves or horizontally polarized shear waves (HPSWs). Analyte specificity and selectivity of the sensors are determined by the sensor coatings. If a group of analytes is to be detected or if only selective coatings (i.e., coatings responding to more than one analyte) are available, the use of multi-sensor arrays is advantageous, as the evaluation of the resulting signal patterns allows qualitative and quantitative characterization of the sample. Virtual sensor arrays utilize only one sensor but combine it with enhanced signal evaluation methods or preceding sample separation, which results in similar results as obtained with multi-sensor arrays. Both array types have shown to be promising with regard to system integration and low costs. This review discusses principles and design considerations for acoustic multi-sensor and virtual sensor arrays and outlines the use of these arrays in multi-analyte detection applications, focusing mainly on developments of the past decade.