Micralyne Newslyne - May 2008
about micralyne mems capabilities event calendar news releases mems resources contact us


Welcome to the May Edition of Newslyne, Micralyne's quarterly e-newsletter. In this edition learn about characterization, testing and qualification in the CEO Message, and learn about Metrology and Characterization Tools in Micralyne from our engineers.

Award Photos from iCORE Alberta Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Research Symposium
Micralyne Inc - Presents Oral Communication Award at University of Alberta

(click here for details)

Mahmood R. Minhas Recieves Award John Crabtree introduces Micralyne Micralyne Display at University of Alberta Symposium
Mahmood R. Minhas Recieves Award John Crabtree introduces Micralyne Micralyne Display at University of Alberta Symposium


Contents - May 2008

:: Message from the CEO
:: Glen Fitzpatrick and Siamak Akhlaghi - Metrology and Characterization Tools
:: Micralyne News & Events


Message from the CEO

Mr. Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne
Mr. Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne
Characterization, testing, and qualification: dry topic? Some may think so, but at Micralyne we know that it's a critical part of successful MEMS product development and manufacturing. Our customers want confirmation that they're getting what they ordered, and being able to assure this for micron sized parts requires that we use a variety of specialized tools and practices.

MEMS products can provide tremendous economic benefits to their users. As you've heard us say before, MEMS makes products better, smaller, and less expensive. Better comes from more capability, where MEMS can do things that non-MEMS products simply can't do. Smaller gives MEMS products fit and function in more environments than conventional products can, and provides benefit in new applications areas. Cost, the final area, results from MEMS products providing better functionality at lower costs than conventional products.

To make all of this happen, MEMS technology relies on structures that can use a variety of properties, including electrical, structural, chemical, and optical properties, as well as complex interactions between these. Ensuring that MEMS devices do what they're supposed to do requires that novel testing and characterization is in place; that is, our customers need to know that they're receiving devices that meet their specifications.

MEMS companies therefore need to do more than just 'make' devices for their customers: they also need to be able to prove that these devices have the properties that they are supposed to have.

Two of our engineering managers have written more details about this in the technical briefing in this issue. As a user of MEMS products, you do not need to understand in detail the various methods which we use to characterize what we make. However, you do want to know that we can and do validate what we make, in order to ensure that it meets the rigorous specifications required to ensure performance in the field.

Making parts and validating that they're made well are two sides of the same coin, and this is one of the differences that makes Micralyne unique. Call us for more information about this critical aspect of MEMS development.

- By Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne -


Metrology and Characterization Tools in Micralyne

Alcatel Logo
MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) are more difficult to characterize than integrated circuits due to the need to gauge sensing and/or actuation performance, therefore characterization of the constituent structures is a critical part of MEMS development and manufacturing. Integrated circuits are created using stacks of patterned thin films which constitute the semiconducting, conducting and dielectric layer. This requires considerable control of a number of parameters with respect to material properties and structural size.

MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) use films of these types as well as an esoteric suite of films to make the suspended and freed parts which enable movement of the device. This adds a level of complexity to the characteristics which require measurement and control to realize functional devices.

Micralyne uses a number of metrology and characterization tools to develop and maintain processes as well as to control in line manufacturing protocols.

A series of Zygo interferometer images of the SLV deforming at 1 volt intervals
Fig.1: A series of Zygo interferometer images of the SLV deforming at 1 volt intervals
Film thickness control is essential, and one of the most basic measurement tools is a stylus profilometer. Using a scanned tip over a surface of a film segment, the thickness can be determined. It is most useful for metal films, as well as measuring the depths of channels or openings in substrates as large as tens to hundreds of microns. If the film is transparent, then optical methods can be used to characterize the thickness and index. Micralyne has dual pass spectroscopic measurement systems and for greater index of refraction characterization, we have a spectroscopic ellipsometer to charact
erize multiple layers of thin films.

Stress characteristics of a triple film layer system over 200 degrees Celsius range
Fig. 2: Stress characteristics of a triple film layer system over 200 degrees Celsius range

Multiple thin films deposited in situ can make measurement of thickness difficult, but using XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence), the individual film thickness values can be determined individually.

The films have to be patterned lithographically and delineated by various etching techniques. As such, the feature width needs to be measured and controlled, usually centered on what is referred to as a CD (Critical Dim

ension). The CD measurement system can accurately determine these features to a submicron resolution.

SLV Chip with 1000 switches
Fig. 3: SLV Chip with 1000 switches

Since many thin films are part of a suspended structure, the contribution of stress from each film is important, as the released portion can deform due to mismatched stress values. The film stress is characterized by measuring the distortion of a circular silicon wafer and can cycle through a temperature range from ambient to 650 Celsius.

In order to measure smaller
membrane deflections, or the actuation angles of devices while being stimulated with voltage from a probe station, white light interferometers can measure deflection to the nanometer scale.

Electrical probing can also be done to gather electrical characteristic information of devices, or just to determine contact or sheet resistance of films.

Particulate control is essential in the clean room environment which these devices are made in. Micralyne uses a particle measurement tool to scan flat wafer surfaces to map and characterize the effectiveness of
process and environmentally induced particulate.

Cut away view of a single actuating SLV element
Fig. 4: Cut away view of a single actuating SLV element
A powerful tool for looking at many facets of the above parameters in detail is our scanning electron microscope), which also has EDX (Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis), useful for development, control and troubleshooting.

Surface characterization that provides lateral and depth spatial distributions is also another important analysis that is routinely performed. There are different techniques available to meet these needs, and the most common ones are AES, XPS and SIMS. The justification for using one technique and not other depends on the capabilities, limitations and the comparative strengths and weaknesses o
f one particular analytical method.

AES, XPS, and SIMS are true surface analytical techniques, since the detected signals are emitted from top 2-20 surface monolayers. Additionally, they are broadly applicable to detecting any element in the periodic table. However, the detection limit for AES and XPS is in the range about 0.1 to 1.0 atomic percent while SIMS is much more sensitive in the parts per million range. The lateral spatial resolution for AES method is extremely high, several hundred angstroms, while for SIMS is several microns and XPS is the poorest, a few hundred microns.

- By Glen Fitzpatrick and Siamak Akhlaghi -

email: glen@micralyne.com
email: siamak@micralyne.com
web: www.micralyne.com



MEMS News, Events & Resources

MEMS Foundry Micralyne Named a Finalist for the 2008 CATAAlliance Innovation and Leadership Awards
Micralyne Inc., a world leading MEMS foundry, has recently learned that it has been selected as a finalist for the 2008 CATAAlliance Innovation and Leadership Award in the category of Private Sector Leadership in Advanced Technology.
::Read Full Release


Micralyne Inc - Presents Oral Communication Award at University of Alberta
Micralyne Inc. was pleased to be on hand at the 2008 iCORE Alberta Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Research Symposium. Micralyne had the pleasure of presenting the Oral Communication Award at the graduate research symposium.
::Read Full Release


Contact Information: Micralyne Inc.
1911-94 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6N 1E6
Phone: 1.780.431.4400 Fax: 1.780.431.4422
Email: info(at)micralyne.com

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