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Proceedings Paper

Failure analysis of radio frequency (rf) micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)
Author(s): Jeremy A. Walraven; Edward I. Cole; Lynn R. Sloan; Susan L. Hietala; Chris P. Tigges; Christopher W. Dyck
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Paper Abstract

MEMS are rapidly emerging as critical components in the telecommunications industry. This enabling technology is currently being implemented in a variety of product and engineering applications. MEMS are currently being used as optical switches to reroute light, tunable filters, and mechanical resonators. Radio frequency (RF) MEMS must be compatible with current Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) processing technologies for maximum integration levels. The RF MEMS switch discussed in this paper was fabricated using various layers of polyimide, silicon oxynitride (SiON), gold, and aluminum monolithically fabricated on a GaAs substrate. Fig. 1 shows a metal contacting series switch. This switch consists of gold signal lines (transmission lines), and contact metallization. SiON was deposited to form the fixed-fixed beam, and aluminum was deposited to form the top actuation electrode. To ensure product performance and reliability, RF MEMS switches are tested at both the wafer and package levels. Various processing irregularities may pass the visual inspection but fail electrical testing. This paper will focus on the failure mechanisms found in the first generation of RF MEMS developed at Sandia National Laboratories. Various tools and techniques such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), resistive contrast imaging (RCI), focused ion beam (FIB), and thermally-induced voltage alteration (TIVA) have been employed to diagnose the failure mechanisms. The analysis performed using these tools and techniques led to corrective actions implemented in the next generation of RF MEMS metal contacting series switches.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 October 2001
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 4558, Reliability, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS, (2 October 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.442999
Show Author Affiliations
Jeremy A. Walraven, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Edward I. Cole, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Lynn R. Sloan, Agilent Technologies (United States)
Susan L. Hietala, Emcore Optical Devices (United States)
Chris P. Tigges, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Christopher W. Dyck, Sandia National Labs. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4558:
Reliability, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS
Rajeshuni Ramesham, Editor(s)

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