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5 January 2006 Infrared laser deposition of Teflon coatings on microstructures
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Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, trade name Teflon) has a wide range of unique and desirable physical, electrical and chemical properties. Its tribological properties are well-suited to anti-stiction applications, and its chemical inertness commends it as a barrier and passivation layer. However, conventional thin-film techniques are not suited for depositing Teflon films on microstructures. Spin coating is impossible because of the well-known insolubility of PTFE. Plasma polymerization of fluorocarbon monomers, ion beam and rf sputtering produce PTFE films that are deficient in fluorine. Pulsed laser deposition (PLD) using excimer and Ti:sapphire lasers is unsatisfactory because UV or near-IR laser ablation "unzips" the PTFE, and requires high-temperature annealing to re-polymerize the deposited monomeric film. We have demonstrated that a completely dry, vapor-phase coating technique - resonant infrared pulsed laser deposition (RIR-PLD) at a wavelength of 8.26 μm -produces crystalline, smooth Teflon films at low process temperatures. Indeed, the films as deposited by RIR-PLD exhibit a surprising degree of crystallinity even at room temperature. The stoichiometry and local electronic structure are preserved during the laser vaporization process, as demonstrated by IR absorption and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Films deposited on microscale structures show good adhesion, excellent smoothness, and a high degree of conformability to the structures. We also discuss experiments planned for the near future to compare the tribological properties of the PTFE films deposited by RIR-PLD with those of other tribological coatings. We will also discuss the implementation of RIR-PLD in practical processing schemes for MEMS applications, including the challenge in adapting existing solid-state mid-IR laser technology for this purpose.
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M. R. Papantonakis and R. F. Haglund Jr. "Infrared laser deposition of Teflon coatings on microstructures", Proc. SPIE 6111, Reliability, Packaging, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS V, 611104 (5 January 2006);

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