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Proceedings Paper

Anodic oxidation-induced delamination of the SUMMiT poly 0 to silicon nitride interface
Author(s): Richard A. Plass; Jeremy A. Walraven; Danelle M. Tanner; Frederick W. Sexton
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Paper Abstract

Anodic oxidation can be a catastrophic failure mechanism for MEMS devices that operate in high humidity environments. Shea and coworkers have shown that positively charged polysilicon traces can fail through a progressive silicon oxidation reaction whose rate depends critically on the surface conductivity over the silicon nitride. We have found a related anodic oxidation-based failure mechanism: progressive delamination of Poly 0 electrodes from silicon nitride layers, which then mechanically interfere with device function well before the electrode is fully oxidized. To explain this effect, we propose that the silicon oxide which initially forms at the electrode edge has insufficient strength to hold the local Poly 0 / silicon nitride interface together. This low-density silicon oxide also creates a bilayer system, which curls the edge of the 300 nm thick Poly 0 electrode away from the nitride. As delamination progresses more nitride surface is exposed and more of the interface is then attacked. This process continues cyclically until the electrode edge pushes against other device components, catastrophically and irreversibly interfering with normal operation. Additionally, we observe that the delamination only starts at electrode edges directly under cantilevers, suggesting the oxidation rate also depends on the perpendicular electric field strength.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 January 2003
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 4980, Reliability, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS II, (16 January 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.476366
Show Author Affiliations
Richard A. Plass, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Jeremy A. Walraven, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Danelle M. Tanner, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Frederick W. Sexton, Sandia National Labs. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4980:
Reliability, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS II
Rajeshuni Ramesham; Danelle M. Tanner, Editor(s)

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