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Self-supporting uncooled infrared microbolometers with low-thermal mass

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3 Author(s)

A new micromachined microbolometer array structure is presented that utilizes a self-supporting semiconducting yttrium barium copper oxide (Y-Ba-Cu-O) thin film thermometer. The Y-Ba-Cu-O thermometer is held above the substrate only by the electrode arms without the need of any underlying supporting membrane. This represents a significant improvement in the state-of-the-art for microbolometers by eliminating the thermal mass associated with the supporting membrane. The reduced thermal mass permits lowering the thermal conductance to the substrate to obtain increased responsivity or having a shorter thermal time constant to allow for higher frame rate camera. The simple structure does not suffer from warping problems associated with stress imbalances in multilayer microbolometer structures that utilize a supporting membrane such as Si3N4. Devices were fabricated by growing Y-Ba-Cu-O films on a conventional polyimide sacrificial layer mesa. Subsequent etching of the sacrificial layer provides the air gap that thermally isolates the microbolometer. Y-Ba-Cu-O possesses a relatively high temperature coefficient of resistance of 3.1%/K at room temperature. The 400-nm-thick Y-Ba-Cu-O film exhibited absorptivity of about 30%. The responsivity and detectivity approached 104 V/W and 108 cm Hz1/2/W to filtered blackbody infrared (IR) radiation covering the 2.5 to 13.5 μm band. This extrapolates to noise equivalent temperature difference (NETD) less than 100 mK. The micromachining techniques employed are post-complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) compatible, allowing for the fabrication of focal plane arrays for IR cameras

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:10 ,  Issue: 3 )