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Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) - photoQuartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) Products

The Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) is an extremely sensitive mass sensor, capable of measuring mass changes in the nanogram range. QCMs are piezoelectric devices fabricated of a thin plate of quartz with electrodes affixed to each side of the plate.

International Crystal Manufacturing Company (ICM) manufactures a standard and custom crystals for use as Quartz Crystal Microbalance and Electrochemical Quartz Crystal Microbalance applications plus necessary accessories such as oscillators and liquid flow/static cells.

To view details about our quartz microbalance products, please select one of the links below:

QCM crystal product types

ICM offers three major product categories of Quartz Crystal Microbalance products. These include:

  • frequency
  • blank diameter
  • surface finish
  • electrode diameter
  • electrode material
  • mounting
  • bonding
  • or any other fabrication wish
  • Oscillators – ICM offers standard (clock) oscillators (for gaseous applications) and Lever Oscillators (for liquid applications) designed specifically for use with QCM crystals.

  • Liquid Flow/Static Cells – ICM's Liquid Flow Cells allow our customers to make measurements on a static or flowing sample with the same cell just flip the cell or use our Static cell for larger volume static testing.

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QCM crystal accessories

In order for a Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) crystal to work end-users must have some type of oscillator circuit to connect the crystal to and, in many instances, an enclosure or liquid flow/static cell for the crystal is necessary.

ICM produces two types of high-quality oscillators designed specifically for use with QCM crystals:

  • Standard (clock) oscillators
  • Lever oscillators

Our standard (clock) oscillator is designed for use in gaseous applications and our Lever Oscillator is designed for use in liquid applications. Both types of oscillators for use with QCM crystals are proven designs developed by experienced engineers.

ICM also offers three cells for holding the QCM's designed to work with the oscillators. When using QCM’s in an aqueous solution, one side of the crystal must be dry and exposed to the air. Our two liquid flow/static cells allow the use of liquids in two ways:

  1. One side of the cell is constructed as a static system so one face of the crystal is exposed to a chamber that can hold up to 1 mL of liquid while the other face is dry and exposed to the air.

  2. The other side of the cell is constructed as a flow system so one face of the crystal is exposed to a 70uL chamber. This chamber is connected to an external peristaltic or syringe pumping system through common 1/4 - 20 thread fittings. Two flangeless fittings for 1/16 inch OD tubing are included with the cell. ICM designed the 70 uL chamber over the crystal to reduce the potential for air bubbles remaining on the crystal.

One cell is made of clear acrylic and the other is made of PEEK (Polyetheretherketone) which provides excellent chemical resistance to organic and inorganic liquids. Our Static cell, made of Teflon, offers a larger chamber with one 5mm and one 7mm hole for electrodes or probes for electrochemical use and two 2mm holes for manual purging/insertion in the top.

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Typical Applications

QCM crystals are used as sensors to determine mass changes as a result of frequency changes. In research environments, the most common QCM crystal applications include metal deposition monitors, chemical reaction monitors, biomedical sensors, and environmental monitoring applications, etc. Other applications include detection of mass, density, viscosity, adsorption, desorption, and corrosion.

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QCM Crystal Frequency Ranges

The most common frequencies for ICM’s QCM crystals are 5.000 MHz and 10.000 MHz, although ICM can produce QCM crystals with any frequency between 1.000 and 30.000+ MHz.

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QCM Crystal Ordering Considerations

When ordering Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) crystals, end-user customers will need to determine the following parameters:

Frequency

Select the desired frequency between 1.00 and 30.00MHz. ICM’s standard frequencies are 5.00MHz and 10.00MHz. Higher frequencies will provide better resolution on the reading, but these crystals will be more difficult to handle.

Blank Diameter

The standard Blank Diameters are .538", .340", and .318" for our most common frequencies. Frequencies outside of the normal range may require different diameters. For assistance, please call ICM.

Surface Finish

Determine which finish, of the two types of surface finish, is needed need. Select either:

  1. Etched (un-polished), has less than a 3 micron finish. An etched surface finish increases the effective surface area of the electrode. No adhesion layer is required for etched surfaces unless it is to be operated in a harsh environment or at high temperatures. Etched surface finishes are used for electrochemical applications.
  2. Polished (optically clear), has less than a 1 micron finish. A polished surface finish provides a more consistent surface area on the electrode. Polished surfaces require an adhesion layer underneath the primary metallization such as Chromium (Cr) or Titanium (Ti).

Electrode Diameter

Electrodes are normally .137", .201", or .268" in diameter depending on the frequency requested. ICM can supply other sizes and shapes upon request. Crystals can be supplied as an un-plated blank as well. For assistance, please call ICM.

Electrode Material

End-users must specify the electrode material required. ICM normally supplies QCMs plated with 1,000 Å of 99.99% pure gold (Au). Other electrode materials that are available include:

Aluminum (Al)
Carbon (C)
Chromium (Cr)
Cobalt (Co)
Copper (Cu)

Molybdenum (Mo)
Nickel (Ni)
Palladium (Pd)
Platinum (Pt)
Silicon (Si)

Silver (Ag)
Tin Oxide (SnO2)
Titanium (Ti)
Tungsten (W)
Zinc (Zn)

Due to the Fluctuation in the price of Precious Metals, ICM reserves the right to change the price of QCM crystals at anytime.

Mounting and Bonding

ICM’s QCM crystals are normally supplied mounted and bonded to an HC-48/U base which provides physical and electrical connection. Customers may request crystals to be un-bonded. Un-bonded crystals can be removed from the base and coated with material by the customer at their facility and then re-mounted into the base for use. ICM can supply a conductive silver epoxy that cures at room temperature for bonding the crystals to the base after this coating process.

Un-Mounted and Un-Bonded

 

ICM’s QCM crystals can be supplied as un-mounted and un-bonded this option provides the customer with just the QCM blank, a base and can will not be provided. This option is provided for those customer’s who wish to use the QCM in a static cell or who want to us their own mounting hardware.

Special Needs

Customers often present special QCM crystal configurations outside the parameters listed above. Please call ICM for assistance for any special configurations.

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Call us today at 1-800-725-1426, fill out our contact form, email us at customerservice@icmfg.com or request an online quote for International Crystal Manufacturing radio frequency control devices – quartz crystals, oscillators, filters, TCXOs, and precision crystals.


Quartz Crystals Precision Telemetry Crystal Products
International Crystal Manufacturing
10 North Lee Avenue Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Toll Free Phone: 1-800-725-1426 Toll Free Fax: 1-800-322-9426
Phone: 1-405-236-3741 Fax: 1-405-235-1904
Email: customerservice@icmfg.com

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