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28 March 2012 In situ polarization of polymer films in microsensors
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Abstract
Electret and polymer piezoelectric films have been previously integrated into Micro Electro Mechanical System (MEMS) acoustic sensors and energy harvesters. Common techniques employed in MEMS polymer integration include corona discharge [1] and backlighted thyratron [2], followed by macro-scale assembly of the polymer into the micro device. In contrast, this paper reports a method for post-fabrication in-situ polarization of polymer films embedded within the MEMS device itself. The method utilizes microplasma discharges with self-aligned charging grids integrated within the device to charge fluoropolymer films in a fashion similar to the common corona discharge technique. This in-situ approach enables the integration of uncharged polymer films into MEMS and subsequent post-fabrication and post-packaging polarization, simultaneously enabling the formation of buried or encapsulated electrets as well as eliminating the need to restrict fabrication and packaging processes that might otherwise discharge pre-charged materials. Using the in situ approach, a microscale charging grid structure is fabricated and suspended a short distance above the polymer film. After fabrication of the charging grid, standard microfabrication steps are performed to build MEMS sensors. After completing the entire fabrication and packaging flow, the polarization process is performed. When energized by a high voltage, the sharp metal edges of the charging grid lead to high dielectric fields that ionize the air in the gap and force electric charge onto the polymer surface. This paper presents modeling and results for this in situ polarization process.
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M. Kranz, M. G. Allen, and T. Hudson "In situ polarization of polymer films in microsensors", Proc. SPIE 8342, Behavior and Mechanics of Multifunctional Materials and Composites 2012, 83420L (28 March 2012); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.915406
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