[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A wide array of materials have been investigated as candidate fabrication templates for precision microelectromechanical structures, including boron-diffused silicon, boron-doped epitaxial silicon, polysilicon, silicon-on-insulator, and wafer-thick bulk structures. Here we present the latest fabrication results for epitaxial silicon-germanium alloys, a new class of materials which possess excellent crystalline structure, are compatible with non-toxic etchants in bulk micromachining, and are capable of on-chip integration with electronics. For MEMS applications, silicon-germanium alloy layers are grown using a graded buffer approach, resulting in very high quality micromachined structures. Very low defect densities are obtained through the use of these relaxed buffers. Original etch-stop studies determined that Ge doping provided a very weak selectivity in anisotropic etchants such as KOH and EDP. However, by extending the range of Ge concentration to over 20%, we have found extremely high etch selectivities in a variety of etchants. Unlike boron-doped layers, SiGe exhibits etch stop characteristics in the non-toxic, process compatible solution TMAH. The combination of independence from boron doping concentration and etchant compatibility make SiGe a material which is ideal for integration with on-chip electronics.In this work we present the latest fabrication data on comb-drive resonators built using SiGe epitaxial layers. Process compatibility issues related to wafer curvature, surface finish and reactive-ion-etching chemistries are addressed. An unexpected result of the fabrication process, curvature of released structures, is resolved by annealing wafers after the SiGe deposition. Changes in Young's modulus arising from the high atomic fraction of Ge in the device can be determined by simple beam analysis based on observed resonant frequencies. Overall, build precision for these devices is excellent. We conclude by addressing the remaining challenges for wide-scale implementation of silicon-germanium epitaxial MEMS.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the present work we describe a high-precision fabrication
method for silicon micromachining based on a newly developed epitaxial
etch-stop. This etch-stop, composed of a silicon-germanium alloy with no
boron doping, outperforms traditional boron-doped etch stops in several
important and fundamental ways. Etch selectivities in a variety of
standard etchants compare favorably with those obtained using
high-concentration boron diffused and epitaxial layers. Microstructural
analysis of the new etch-stop layer demonstrates a significant reduction
in defect density relative to boron-doped counterparts. Tuning fork
gyroscopes built with the new etch-stop show build dimensions comparable
to those fabricated with conventional methods. We propose a band
structure model for the etch-stop mechanism that mimics the
hole-injection phenomenon often invoked for boron doping, and conclude
with a brief discussion of the advantages of this new fabrication
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present work demonstrates very high etch selectivity for a novel epitaxial layer in several standard bulk micromachining etchants. High selectivities have previously been achieved using high-concentration boron diffusions, resulting in a wide array of high performance micromechanical sensors. However, doping gradients, precipitates and dislocation arrays generated from the high boron concentrations can have deleterious effects on device performance. In this work, we report on the performance of a novel epitaxial structure composed of a silicon-germanium alloy device layer over a graded buffer layer. Chemical and microstructural analysis of the epitaxial layers reveal high purity and minimal defect densities. The selectivities of this layer and of boron-diffused layers are determined for a variety of etching conditions. High selectivity against low-doped silicon substrates is demonstrated in both ethylenediamine pyrocatechol and potassium hydroxide. Micromachined structures built using the SiGe epitaxial layer show smooth surfaces and precise build dimensions.