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The fluidic packaging of Power MEMS devices such as the MIT microengine and microrocket requires the fabrication of hermetic seals capable of withstanding temperature in the range 20-600°C and pressures in the range 100-300 atm. We describe an approach to such packaging by attaching Kovar metal tubes to a silicon device using glass seal technology. Failure due to fracture of the seals is a significant reliability concern in the baseline process: microscopy revealed a large number of voids in the glass, pre-cracks in the glass and silicon, and poor wetting of the glass to silicon. The effects of various processing and materials parameters on these phenomena were examined. A robust procedure, based on the use of metal-coated silicon substrates, was developed to ensure good wetting. The bending strength of single-tube specimens was determined at several temperatures. The dominant failure mode changed from fracture at room temperature to yielding of the glass and Kovar at 600°C. The strength in tension at room temperature was analyzed using Weibull statistics; these results indicate a probability of survival of 0.99 at an operational pressure of 125 atm at room temperature for single tubes and a corresponding probability of 0.9 for a packaged device with 11 joints. The residual stresses were analyzed using the method of finite elements and recommendations for the improvement of packaging reliability are suggested.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2004