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Silicon-based microelectrodes for neurophysiology fabricated using a gold metallization/nitride passivation system

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5 Author(s)
Ensell, G. ; Dept. of Electron. & Comput. Sci., Southampton Univ., UK ; Banks, D.J. ; Ewins, D.J. ; Balachandran, W.
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The multimicroelectrode probe (microprobe) is a device used in neurophysiology to record signals from nerve cells. Microprobes typically have a number of gold recording sites supported on a narrow cantilever beam which is inserted into the tissue. Conducting tracks connect the recording sites to bonding pads on the body of the device. The metallization is insulated, except at the recording sites and bonding pads, by a passivation layer. Boron etch stop techniques can be used to produce narrow cantilever beams upon which recording sites are situated. Previously, polysilicon interconnects were used on microprobes fabricated using boron etch stop techniques, with gold inlaid onto the recording sites using a lift-off technique. This meant that mechanical jigging was required before the final shaping of the probes in potassium hydroxide (or other etch) to prevent the etch from attacking the polysilicon conductors beneath the inlaid gold. The process reported here incorporates a gold metallization layer, in conjunction with a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) nitride passivation layer. Since both these materials etch very slowly in potassium hydroxide, no mechanical jigging, or other steps, need to be taken to protect the front of the wafer during the shaping stage. This simplifies the fabrication of these devices

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Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 2 )