30 December 2005 Tuning the sensing range of silicon pressure sensor by trench etching technology
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Abstract
The silicon pressure sensor has been developed for over thirty years and widely used in automobiles, medical instruments, commercial electronics, etc. There are many different specifications of silicon pressure sensors that cover a very large sensing range, from less than 1 psi to as high as 1000 psi. The key elements of the silicon pressure sensor are a square membrane and the piezoresistive strain gages near the boundary of the membrane. The dimensions of the membrane determine the full sensing range and the sensitivity of the silicon sensor, including thickness and in-plane length. Unfortunately, in order to change the sensing range, the manufacturers need to order a customized epi wafer to get the desired thickness. All masks (usually six) have to be re-laid and re-fabricated for different membrane sizes. The existing technology requires at least three months to deliver the prototype for specific customer requests or the new application market. This research proposes a new approach to dramatically reduce the prototyping time from three months to one week. The concept is to tune the rigidity of the sensing membrane by modifying the boundary conditions without changing the plenary size. An extra mask is utilized to define the geometry and location of deep-RIE trenches and all other masks remain the same. Membranes with different depths and different patterns of trenches are designed for different full sensing ranges. The simulation results show that for a 17um thick and 750um wide membrane, the adjustable range by tuning trench depth is about 45% (from 5um to 10um), and can go to as high as 100% by tuning both the pattern and depth of the trenches. Based on an actual test in a product fabrication line, we verified that the total delivery time can be minimized to one week to make the prototyping very effective and cost-efficient.
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Yu-Tuan Chou, Yu-Tuan Chou, Hung-Yi Lin, Hung-Yi Lin, Hsin-Hua Hu, Hsin-Hua Hu, "Tuning the sensing range of silicon pressure sensor by trench etching technology", Proc. SPIE 6037, Device and Process Technologies for Microelectronics, MEMS, and Photonics IV, 603715 (30 December 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.638727; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.638727
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