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Published September 2009 | Published
Journal Article Open

Techniques of cryogenic reactive ion etching in silicon for fabrication of sensors


Cryogenic etching of silicon, using an inductively coupled plasma reactive ion etcher (ICP-RIE), has extraordinary properties which can lead to unique structures difficult to achieve using other etching methods. In this work, the authors demonstrate the application of ICP-RIE techniques which capitalize on the cryogenic properties to create different sensors geometries: optical, electrical, magnetic, and mechanical. The three techniques demonstrated are (1) single step deep etches with controllable sidewall profiles. Demonstrating this, silicon pillars with over 70 µm depth and less than 250 nm sidewall roughness were etched using only 1.6 µm of photoresist for use as solar cells. (2) Using the cryogenic etch for thick metallization and liftoff with a thin photoresist mask. Demonstrating this second technique, a magnetic shim was created by deposition of 6.5 µm of iron into 20 µm deep etched trenches, using the remaining 1.5 µm photoresist etch mask as the liftoff mask. Using the same technique, 15 µm of copper was lifted off leaving a 20 µm deep plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition silicon oxide coated, silicon channel with copper. (3) Use of a two step cryogenic etch for deep etching with reduced sidewall undercutting. This was demonstrated by fabrication of deep and anisotropic microelectromechanical systems structures; a mechanical resonator was etched 183 µm deep into silicon with less than 3 µm of undercutting. This work also describes the etch parameters and etch controls for each of these sensors.

Additional Information

©2009 American Vacuum Society. Received 25 February 2009; accepted 12 July 2009; published 25 August 2009. M.D.H. gratefully thanks the Hertz Foundation for generous support. He also thanks Mike Shearn and Andrew Homyk for helpful conversations. The authors also thank Craig Ward of Oxford Instruments for technical equipment support. The authors also acknowledge funding from DARPA under HR0011-04-1-0054 and NSF under ECS-0622228 and the CIAN ERC center as well as the Boeing SRDMA program.

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