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MgO sacrificial layer for micromachining uncooled Y-Ba-Cu-O IR microbolometers on Si3N4 bridges

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3 Author(s)
J. E. Gray ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Southern Methodist Univ., Dallas, TX, USA ; Z. Celik-Butler ; D. P. Butler

This paper describes a new micromachining technique for fabrication of semiconducting yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO) microbolometers using magnesium oxide (MgO) as the sacrificial layer. This type of bolometer can be operated at room temperature, providing a low-cost alternative for more expensive cryogenically cooled thermal detectors used for infrared (IR) imaging. The new micromachining techniques described here would enable the fabrication of YBCO IR focal plane array (FPA) with CMOS signal processing circuitry. Devices were fabricated by growing YBCO films on 4000-Å-thick suspended Si3N4 membranes measuring 40×40 μm2 in area and extended over micromachined air gaps, which provide the low thermal conductivity that is required for high responsivity. The gap was created by etching an MgO sacrificial layer. This is the first example of using MgO in this type of application. The MgO sacrificial layer technique is fully CMOS compatible and presents no major fabrication challenges. Thermal conductivities achieved in vacuum with the Si3N4 suspended structures were on the order of 10-7 W/K, yielding an effective thermal isolation for bolometer operation. Optical characterization has shown responsivity up to 60 kV/W and detectivity over 108 cm.Hz1/2/W to black-body IR radiation, indicating that this technology is a suitable candidate for low-cost thermal imaging

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 2 )