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Sintering Behavior of Cofired LTCC/PZT-SKN Multilayer Ceramics for Microfluidic and Lab on Chip Applications
Keywords: low temperature cofired ceramics, piezoelectric ceramics, sintering
There is increasing interest in the development of highly integrated microscale electromechanical systems incorporating active piezoelectric elements with features on the order of one to several hundred microns. Features of this length scale are difficult to achieve by either traditional bulk ceramic forming/machining processes or thin film deposition and patterning technologies. An additional challenge has been formulating piezoelectric compositions which can be integrated/cofired using common ceramic packaging materials and methods. Modern thick film and 3D packaging technologies, now widely used in portable communications and handheld electronics, suggest a path to fill this critical macro to nanoscale gap. The current work reports the development of low temperature fired PZT-SKN ceramics and processing methods which enable integration of active piezoelectric elements with low temperature cofired ceramic (LTCC) materials. LiBiO2 and CuO are explored for use as sintering aids, for the purpose of accelerating densification of PZT-SKN by the liquid phase sintering. Ceramic 0.98PZT-0.02SKN tapes sintered at 900oC for 1 hour with 1 wt% LiBiO2 + 1 wt% CuO contents exhibit desirable piezoelectric and dielectric properties. The fluxed PZT-SKN thick films are suitable for the multilayer actuator applications and easy integration with LTCC tapes. The master sintering curve (MSC) approach has been used to study the densification behavior of LTCC tapes, PZT-SKN thick films, and LTCC/PZT-SKN laminates. Integrated functional structures utilizing the developed piezoelectric elements with LTCC materials and low fire electrode materials are obtained following cofiring at 870oC for 1 hour. These LTCC integrated piezoelectric transducers maintain a low field d33 of 240 pm/V, in a geometry which is clamped by the inactive substrate. Finally, the fabrication and performance of a LTCC/PZT-SKN multilayered piezoelectric micropump and an integrated microbalance have been evaluated demonstrating several potential applications of cofired hybrid multilayer transducer technology.
Wenli Zhang, Graduate Research Assistant
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

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