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Silicon micromechanics: sensors and actuators on a chip

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4 Author(s)
R. T. Howe ; California Univ., Berkeley, CA, USA ; R. S. Muller ; K. J. Gabriel ; W. S. N. Trimmer

The techniques used to fabricate micromechanical structures are described. Bulk micromachining is routinely used to fabricate microstructures with critical dimensions that are precisely determined by the crystal structure of the silicon wafer, by etch-stop layer thicknesses, or by the lithographic masking pattern. Silicon fusion bonding has been used to fabricate micro silicon pressure sensor chips. Surface micromachining, based on depositing and etching structural and sacrificial films, allows the designer to exploit the uniformity with which chemical vapor deposition (CVD) films coat irregular surfaces as well as the patterning fidelity of modern plasma etching processes. Silicon accelerometers, resonant microsensors, motors, and pumps made by these techniques are discussed. Measuring the mechanical properties of silicon, which are important to these applications, is examined.<>

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 7 )