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Proceedings Paper

Gold-based thin multilayers for ohmic contacts in RF-MEMS switches
Author(s): V. Mulloni; J. Iannacci; R. Bartali; V. Micheli; S. Colpo; N. Laidani; B. Margesin
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Paper Abstract

In RF-MEMS switches many reliability issues are related to the metal contacts in the switching area. The characteristics of this contact influence not only contact resistance and insertion loss, but also the most relevant switch failure mechanisms that are wear of ohmic contact, adhesion and stiction. Gold is widely used for this purpose because of its good conductivity and chemical inertness, but is a soft metal, and the development of hard contact materials with low resistivity is of great interest for RF-MEMS switch reliability. It is possible to increase the contact hardness preserving the convenient gold properties alternating gold layers with thin layers of different metals. The material becomes harder not only by simple alloying but also by the presence of interfaces which act as barriers for mechanical dislocation migration. A detailed study of mechanical, electrical and morphological properties of gold-chromium, gold-platinum and gold-palladium multilayers is presented and discussed. It is found that the annealing treatments are important for tuning hardness values, and a careful choice of the alloying metal is essential when the material is inserted in a real switch fabrication cycle, because hardness improvements can vanish during oxygen plasma treatments usually involved in RF-switches fabrication. Platinum is the only metal tested that is unaffected by oxidation, and also modifies the chromium adhesion layer diffusion on the contact surface.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 May 2011
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 8066, Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS V, 80661D (5 May 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.886377
Show Author Affiliations
V. Mulloni, Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy)
J. Iannacci, Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy)
R. Bartali, Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy)
V. Micheli, Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy)
S. Colpo, Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy)
N. Laidani, Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy)
B. Margesin, Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8066:
Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS V
Ulrich Schmid; José Luis Sánchez-Rojas; Monika Leester-Schaedel, Editor(s)

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