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A System for the Early Evaluation of Newly Developed MEMS Devices
Keywords: MEMS, Testing, Vacuum Chamber
Evaluating MEMS devices during the developmental phase is challenging. Although MEMS die are often not packaged at this phase of their development, it can be useful to evaluate them electrically and mechanically, and also in gas chemistries and at pressures different than ambient. From these tests, the design and manufacturing processes can be adjusted before packaged devices are available for in depth testing. To accomplish this goal, a vacuum chamber based MEMS evaluation system has been developed for electrically and mechanically evaluating MEMS die. The system consists of a bell jar vacuum system with a pressure range from 0.060 Torr to ambient pressure. Additionally, the vacuum system has been constructed to allow other gases to be injected into the vacuum chamber for device testing. A machined plastic fixture is used to mount the bare die during testing. This fixture is attached to a small electromechanical shaker that resides inside the vacuum chamber for dynamic mechanical testing of the MEMS device. Two laser interferometers are used through the glass bell jar to then measure the relative motion of two locations on the die, thus allowing the transmissibility and the range of microstructure motion to be measured. The evaluation system also has 9 electrical feedthroughs for external connection to the MEMS die or to other test equipment located inside the chamber. Also, a graphite heating stage has been integrated into the chamber for thermal testing. To demonstrate the usefulness of this system, electrical and mechanical tests have been performed on several MEMS devices and systems to measure the mechanical frequency response, the mechanical quality factor in various gases at different pressures, and the closed loop operation with integrated electronics. This system is directly compatible with the microfabrication clean room. Thus, it allows early testing of new devices before packaging has been completed.
Robert Dean, Assistant Professor
Auburn University
Auburn, AL
USA


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