This paper reports on an alternative method for precise and uniform fabrication of 100μm-thick SU-8 microstructures on small-sized or non-circular samples. Standard spin-coating of high-viscosity resists is indeed known to induce large edge beads, leading to an air gap between the mask and the SU-8 photo-resist surface during UV photolithography. This results in a non uniform thickness deposition and in a poor pattern definition. This problem becomes highly critical in the case of small-sized samples. To overcome it, we have developed a soft thermal imprint method based on the use of a nano-imprint equipment and applicable whatever sample fragility, shape and size (from 2cm to 6 inches). After final photolithography, the SU8 pattern thickness variation profile is measured. Thickness uniformity is improved from 30% to 5% with a 5μm maximal deviation to the target value over 2cm-long samples.
We report on the optimized design of a polymer-based actuator that can be directly integrated on a VCSEL for vertical beam scanning. Its operation principle is based on the vertical displacement of a SU-8 membrane including a polymer microlens. Under an applied thermal gradient, the membrane is shifted vertically due to thermal expansion in the actuation arms induced by Joule effect. This leads to a modification of microlens position and thus to a vertical scan of the laser beam. Membrane vertical displacements as high as 8μm for only 3V applied were recently experimentally obtained. To explain these performances, we developed a comprehensive tri-dimensional thermo-mechanical model that takes into account SU-8 material properties and precise MOEMS geometry. Out-of-plane mechanical coefficients and thermal conductivity were thus integrated in our 3D model (COMSOL Multiphysics). Vertical displacements extracted from these data for different actuation powers were successfully compared to experimental values, validating this modelling tool. Thereby, it was exploited to increase MOEMS electrothermal performance by a factor higher than 5.