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Microelectronics Packaging of a Micro Gas Analyzer
Keywords: Packaging, Design, MGA
The DARPA-funded Micro Gas Analyzer (MGA) is a miniature, field-deployable, chemical analysis system which has military, anti-terrorism, environmental and industrial process monitoring applications. The system operates by directing the flow of heated atmospheric samples through gas chromatography (GC) devices to allow the sensing of chemical warfare agents, toxins, explosives, or environmental contaminants. An MGA packaging process was developed to assemble the modularized product composed of a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) fluid control mechanism, microfabricated sample preconcentrator with integral heating element, two microfabricated GC columns, and the mechanical and electrical support necessary for testing and operation. The packaging materials and processes were limited by nontraditional design constraints derived from strict operational and chemical requirements. In order to maintain the purity of the sample, hermetic microfluidic channels could not contain metallic surfaces—such as those obtained with solder and certain epoxies—due to the chemical affinity of some target compounds to those surfaces. Additionally, outgassing packaging materials were unsuitable because they would interfere with the gas chromatographic separation. Furthermore, since the production of each subcomponent was still in its infancy, the number of operational devices was severely limited. Therefore, it was necessary to perform extensive testing—including multiple design of experiment (DOE) studies employing imitation components—to insure that the assembly of the functional devices utilized a process with a high probability of success. Under these constraints, a packaging process was established which optimized the functionality of the MGA and provided the greatest reliability during assembly.
Jay Johnson,
Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, NM

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