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A process has been developed for wafer level vacuum packaging MEMS sensors, which are fabricated from etched, single crystal silicon structures, anodically bonded to metallized glass wafers. Key objectives of the process design were to minimize the number of changes to sensor fabrication, insure a high level of vacuum integrity, and flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of sensor designs. Only a single change to the standard sensor fabrication is required to implement the vacuum sealing process. A seal ring of gold, 250 microns wide by 1 micron thick is applied around the perimeter of the sensor and its electrical contact pads. The key features of this vacuum sealing technology are incorporated in the silicon cap wafer. It is 200 microns thick and contains an array of cavities, 50 microns deep, which align with the MEMS devices on the glass wafer. The opposite side of the wafer is coated with 2000 angstroms of silicon dioxide and is arrayed with aluminum bond pads, which align with those on the sensor wafer. These pads are connected to the sensor by through wafer vias, which are coated with a layer of parylene, one micron thick. The parylene is applied in a vapor deposition process, and then an excimer laser is used to ablate it from the bottom of the vias to allow electrical connections to be made to the aluminum bond pads. The vias are metallized with an adhesion layer of 500 angstroms of titanium and a conduction layer of 2000 angstroms of gold. This metal is photo-patterned, to produce pads that align with those of the sensor, and then all exposed parylene is removed by reactive ion etching. This cap wafer is bonded to the sensor wafer in an ultra-high vacuum system with a base pressure of 10-8 Torr. The two wafers are held on electrostatic chucks, one of which is hinged, so that in the degas phase, both wafers can be cleaned in-situ with an ion gun. For bonding, the hinge is actuated to position the cap wafer above the sensor wafer. A pair of prisms is positioned between the wafers to allow them to be precisely aligned prior to sealing. The wafers are bonded together by heating them to 300 °C and actuating a pair of ball screws, which clamps them together under a load of 500 Newtons. The load and temperature is maintained for one hour- to allow the gold of the sensor seal ring to react with the silicon of the cap wafer. The bonded pair is slowly cooled under load to complete the sealing process. The ultimate goal of this sealing approach is to use the control ASIC chip that is paired with the sensor, as the cap structure. This would minimize the length of signal paths between the ASIC and sensor, while realizing a very compact vacuum package.
Date of Conference: 31 May-3 June 2005