Skip to Main Content
The design, fabrication, and testing of microfluidic joints consisting of Kovar metal tubes attached to silicon using borosilicate glass for high pressure microelectromechanical systems devices are presented. The MIT microrocket, which requires microfluidic joints to sustain pressures of at least 12.7 MPa and temperatures in excess of 700 K, is used to demonstrate the feasibility of the glass sealing methodology. A key concern in such joints is the occurrence of cracks due to residual stresses during fabrication, which can affect the load-carrying capability. To obtain a better understanding of the damage and failure characteristics, a hierarchical approach was taken. First, two types of joint configurations with several glass compositions and geometries were considered at the joint-level. Axial tension and pressure tests were performed, and finite element models were used to obtain the residual stress field and to predict failure loads based on linear elastic fracture mechanics. Subsequently, tests were performed on actual and dummy microrockets to validate the methodology at the device-level. Key observations include the importance of bonding between the Kovar tube and the silicon sidewall, which can help increase joint strength, and the detrimental effects of joint proximity under differential pressure loading and manufacturing defects in multiple joint specimens. In addition to specific experimental and analyses results that allow a physical understanding of the damage and failure mechanisms, another key contribution of this work is the overall insight of the design and analysis of reliable glass-sealed microfluidic packages. This insight will help one make better design and process selections for packages in other high-pressure silicon-based MEMS applications.