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Microfabrication for Industrial Applications

Microfabrication for Industrial Applications

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Microfabrication for Industrial Applications

490 pages
5 hours
Aug 31, 2011


Microfabrication for Industrial Applications focuses on the industrial perspective for micro- and nanofabrication methods including large-scale manufacturing, transfer of concepts from lab to factory, process tolerance, yield, robustness, and cost. It gives a history of miniaturization, micro- and nanofabrication, and surveys industrial fields of application, illustrating fabrication processes of relevant micro and nano devices.

Concerning sub-micron feature manufacture, the book explains: the philosophy of micro/ nanofabrication for integrated circuit industry; thin film deposition; (waveguide, plastic, semiconductor) material processing; packaging; interconnects; stress (e.g., thin film residual); economic; and environmental aspects.

Micro/nanomechanical sensors and actuators are explained in depth with information on applications, materials (incl. functional polymers), methods, testing, fabrication, integration, reliability, magnetic microstructures, etc.

  • Shows engineers & students how to evaluate the potential value of current and nearfuture manufacturing processes for miniaturized systems in industrial environments
  • Explains the top-down and bottom up approaches to nanotechnology, nanostructures fabricated with beams, nano imprinting methods, nanoparticle manufacturing (and their health aspects), nanofeature analysis, and connecting nano to micro to macro
  • Discusses issues for practical application cases; possibilities of dimension precision; large volume manufacturing of micro- & nanostructures (machines, materials, costs) 
  • Explains applications of Microsystems for information technology, e.g.: data recording (camera, microphone), storage (memories, CDs), communication; computing; and displays (beamers, LCD, TFT) 
  • Case studies are given for sensors, resonators, probes, transdermal medical systems, micro- pumps & valves, inkjets, DNA-analysis, lab-on-a-chip, & micro-cooling
Aug 31, 2011

About the author

Luttge studied Applied Sciences in Germany (1989-1993). She had been working as an engineering researcher at Institut für Mikrotechnik in Mainz, Germany, for nearly 5 years prior to starting her PhD studies in Microsystems Technologies at Imperial College in 1999, London, UK. In 2003, Luttge was awarded a PhD from University of London on the development of fabrication technology for micro-optical scanners. Switching her research interest to microfluidics applications, Luttge had been working for 12 years at University of Twente’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, The Netherlands, first as a senior scientist and since 2007 as an assistant professor prior to joining TU/e. Based on her established scientific profile in Nanoengineering for Medicine and Biology, Luttge has been appointed associate professor in the Microsystems Group at the Department of Mechanical Engineering in June 2013.

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Microfabrication for Industrial Applications - Regina Luttge


Chapter 1


Chapter Contents

1.1 Philosophy of Micro/Nanofabrication

1.2 The Industry–Science Dualism

1.3 Industrial Applications

1.4 Purpose and Organization of this Book


1.1 Philosophy of Micro/Nanofabrication

Microsystems technology (MST) focuses on the miniaturization of engineering systems to accommodate design specifications of small space, light weight and enhanced portability. An additional advantage of such portable systems is their wide-scale utility in distributed transducer networks. The importance of MST lies, for a large part, in the economical and technical development of innovative systems that it makes possible. The field of microfabrication technology has been established for approximately 50 years and thus it is a relatively young discipline. The first object of miniaturization was the integrated transistor, the workhorse device by means of which major new markets were created. For example, information and communication technology (ICT) relies on the technical principles of miniaturization by integrating more and more electronic functional elements into the same restricted area of a silicon die, the chip. Complementing this chip with a large data storage capacity that has fast read/write access and a high-definition display has given rise to systems which have penetrated all layers of personal and professional human lives. These types of devices are a smart combination of millions of transistors on a single chip, produced on dedicated microelectronic production lines. Transferring technological innovation into a robust and efficient production and marketing process is the secret to providing more and more computing power. The accurate line-width control during manufacturing these devices, at the micrometer or subsequently the nanometer level, is the main reason for giving this pool of associated fields concerned with the design, fabrication, assembly and testing the names micro- and nanotechnology, respectively. The very nature of these new disciplines within the engineering sciences originate from the principles of miniaturization, which was based on having an increasing number of the same circuitized components available on one die. Eventually, further and further integration allows novel functions that were originally unforeseen by conventional machining techniques. One example of such a novel microfabricated product, combining optical and electrical functions with a mechanical function at a small footprint, is an integrated optical light modulator, which we simply call a beamer in everyday life and which we consider a commodity today.

The technical methods which are used to manufacture micro products are described collectively as microfabrication techniques. Their efficiency is due to the definition of patterns in a masking layer and the subsequent parallel transfer of these accurate patterns into a functional material. During pattern transfer, the pattern is therefore copied from a mask, which carries the design features, onto or into a work piece. This work piece can be defined within a thin film or a stack of films, or the bulk of the material, which is also used as the handling platform during such a sequence of process steps. These two distinct approaches are called surface and bulk micromachining. Usually, pattern transfer is a process of at least two main steps. The first step involves the generation of the pattern, either directly by a serial write process, or by parallel patterning using an exposure through a master into a layer (usually a photosensitive polymer). This layer then acts as a masking layer for the second main step: shaping the functional material by processes such as deposition, etching or implantation. Specialists in the field generally call this layer a resist. Other modifications of the accessible areas of the work piece are of course also possible.

The continuous implementation and definition of novel fabrication techniques for modifying and transferring the patterns is key to innovation in the market place. It is this field of research and development that I would like to address in this book.

Lithographic processes have been described many times. In brief, the careful definition of process steps brought about the initial success of industrial lithography, specifically photolithography utilizing a mercury lamp with an intensity peak at a wavelength of 365 nm (UV-light) for transferring the information contained in the master into the resist. An average process sequence for a single device may contain 20–30 individual steps, some of which are considered to be the main steps of the process. This main step receives greater attention during the development of a process document. However, any set or combination of these steps may lead to a new technology.

MST is considered as less conservative than integrated circuit technology (microelectronics), because MST processes are reshaped by prototyping or the fabrication of demonstration devices instead of focussing on high-volume production. For microelectronics it is important that each process step is optimized for through-put and robustness (achieving a high yield). Costs are reduced in microelectronics manufacture due to the ability to copy a complex design in parallel from a special information carrier (photomask) hundreds and thousands of times, with the same high pattern fidelity, by simple shadow optics (exposure through a mask). This manufacturing strategy is called batch processing and is also an essential aspect of the philosophy of micro- and nanofabrication. An overview of the procedure which establishes a societal need, develops the technology and realizes an MST device is depicted in Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1 Schematic of the process from the indentification of a need to the development of batch-process technology.

Nanofabrication is a logical step to the further downscaling of the physical size of components and functional elements, often using the same machinery as microfabrication. Nanotechnology as a new discipline, however, should not be considered as simply an extension of existing techniques to smaller dimensions, but as the integration of novel functions based on an understanding of interactions at a scale of less than 100 nm. Alongside this, bottom-up manufacturing has been introduced. This approach or the previously used top-down method can be chosen, depending on the nature of the engineering problem at hand. Selection of appropriate methodology should also take into account:

(i) performance-based criteria related to the functioning of the system,

(ii) affordability of fabrication during the demonstration phase,

(iii) cost-to-performance criteria for efficient manufacture and sustainable resources during a product’s manufacturing cycle.

This is not a trivial task for scientists and product developers, particularly since all three of these groups of criteria need to be satisfied simultaneously.

Another aspect of the philosophy of micro- and nanofabrication is the concept of integration levels. The terms hybrid and monolithic integration are used, with fully monolithically manufactured systems being the most integrated. From an industrial point of view, however, the latter is not necessarily the most favourable. It is the requirements of a specific product in a market place that determine the optimal approach.

One of the key innovations during the last five decades has been the controlled deposition of thin films. Solvent-based liquid, vapour or gas phase deposition processes are now readily available in the microelectronics industry. Thin-film technology is also an important driver for the definition of materials at the nanoscale. Tuning a material’s properties allows the creation of novel applications. An introduction to nanofabrication is presented in Chapter 4 of this book. Presenting emerging nanofabrication techniques in the context of this book will allow us to draw additional attention to the paradigm shift that is now occurring in the world of production processes. Chapter 4 draws specific attention to the challenges of the positional assembly of nanoscale building blocks.

Unfortunately, at this moment it is difficult to give a clear definition of either micro- or nanotechnology. Thin-film technologies, for example, are already difficult to put into one category or the other, so it is important to clarify what one means when using the terms micro- or nanofabrication. In this context we distinguish nanofabrication from microfabrication techniques if the control of lateral dimensions can be realized precisely enough to result in features at the sub-micrometer scale. Within this framework, the structure height-to-line width ratio (aspect ratio) becomes a special measure of process performance in microsystems’ product development.

As far as MST is concerned, it is easier to give a definition of the field of work instead of defining what actually micro- or nanotechnology is. MST leads to systems-on-chip devices, including their peripheral systems, containing electronic, sensing and actuating functionality packaged within a volume of a few cubic centimeters. Hence, specifically in the USA, this field is historically referred to by the name microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. Sometimes the integrated electronic circuits, sensors and actuators are referred to as the brains, eyes and arms of artificial systems, an expression that has been used by Huff in his tutorial report on MEMS technology [1]. Optical switching and attenuation components are another large group of devices which benefit from the research and development into micro- and nanofabrication principles. The manufacture of microsystems involves a variety of precision engineering techniques, combined with silicon surface micromachining techniques. The first group of techniques (e.g., dicing, laser cutting, lamination, thermal compression bonding) enables the separation or assembly of components, while micromachining is dedicated to the integration of the three sub-functions from the electrical, mechanical and optical domain at the microscale.

With respect to the choice of materials, silicon is the most abundantly used material in miniaturization, although fabrication techniques should be evaluated for substrate materials other than silicon. A systematic overview of basic microfabrication techniques is given in Chapter 2.

The next three sections will give an overview of the content of this book. I also wish to present some guidelines on how this book may be used educationally as part of a course concerned with micro- and nanofabrication technology and its impact on industrial

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