Electric field breakdown at micrometre separations in air and vacuum

Microsystem Technologies (Impact Factor: 0.83). 01/1999; 6(1):6-10. DOI: 10.1007/s005420050166

ABSTRACT At large separations, the behaviour of electrodes has been widely studied and is reasonably well understood. However, some
fundamental problems have not been properly addressed such as maximum safe operating voltages and critical dimensions required
at small separations between different types of materials. A systematic study of electrical breakdown at sub-millimetre separations
using materials commonly used in the fabrication of microdevices has been undertaken. Specimens for examination at electrode
separations from 500 nm to 25 μm have been made with different electrode configurations, such as flat to flat, flat to point
and point to point. All the tests were made in air and at differing pressures.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We are developing a micro ionizer as the ion source in a miniaturised spectrometer-like gas analyser. Most important qualities are low price and operation at atmospheric pressure. The application of DC glow discharge in micro systems was studied by performing discharge and microplasma experiments in a vacuum system. Sparking, oscillating glow discharges, and eventually stable DC glow were observed. With 1 and 3 mm gaps, stable glow was achieved at atmospheric pressure in Ar and N2 respectively. Glows were less stable in dry air.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We develop a microionizer as the ion source in a miniaturized spectrometerlike gas analyzer, operating at atmospheric pressure. Several options for the ionizing principle were considered. The application of dc glow discharge in a microsystem was studied in detail and first devices were fabricated and tested. We obtained stable dc plasmas in micromachined electrode gaps from 1 to 50 μm width, at pressures up to 10<sup>5</sup>  Pa in various gases. With 1 and 3 μm gaps, stable glow was achieved at atmospheric pressure in Ar and N <sub>2</sub>, respectively. In a macrosystem, we extracted ions from a dc glow discharge and controlled the ion flow with a grid. © 2003 American Vacuum Society.
    Journal of vacuum science & technology. B, Microelectronics and nanometer structures: processing, measurement, and phenomena: an official journal of the American Vacuum Society 08/2003; · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: For the first time it is shown that the lifetime of capacitive RF MEMS switches depends on the ambient gas pressure. A change of the pressure causes a change of the electric strength of the gas and as a result electric discharging during the operation can occur. This indicates that insulator charging, the main failure mode in these switches, probably not only occurs upon contact between the top electrode and the insulator, but also without contact, due to electron emission or electrode-gap breakdown.
    Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, 2006. MEMS 2006 Istanbul. 19th IEEE International Conference on; 02/2006