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Polymer-Based Hermetic Packaging for Flexible Micro Devices
Keywords: MEMS, Hermetic, Polymers
In recent years, polymers have been widely adopted as a low-cost, light-weight and high-flexibility alternative to traditional silicon materials for MEMS. However, the majority of polymers do not provide hermetic protection because of their high moisture- and gas permeation rates. Yet, hermetic packaging is critical for many applications such as medical devices [1], RF MEMS [2] and micro heat pipes [3]. In particular, our group has been developing flexible thermal ground planes based on heat pipe technology [3] for advanced electronics cooling applications. Heat pipes require hermetic sealing, while flexibility requires the structural material to be polymer-based. Hermetic packaging methods for MEMS typically include welding, soldering [4], and various epoxies and polymers [1, 2, 5] to bond the parts in a package together. The bond interface is a major potential source of gas and moisture leakage. Although welds and solder joints offer effective hermetic seals, the bond interface is mechanically rigid. On the other hand, flexible bond materials like epoxies typically possess high moisture absorption rate and bonding strength degradation at high temperature [6] while polymers such as BCB [2] or LCP [7] either provide only semi-hermetic sealing or degrade at high temperature. We report a polymer-based hermetic packaging approach using fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP), which possesses flexibility, high operating temperature compatibility (204oC), chemical resistance, and low water absorption rate. We report results of hermeticity tests in which FEP, solder, and epoxy were used to bond a copper-clad kapton “lid” onto a water-containing copper vessel which is then kept in an oven at 100 oC. The only path for water loss is through the bond interface. We show that the FEP-bonded test vehicles result in negligible water loss comparable to the solder-bonded containers, and far outperforming the epoxy-bonded containers. References: [1] G. Jiang and D. D. Zhou (Ed.), Implantable Neural Prostheses 2, (2010). [2] A Jourdain, P De Moor, K Baert, I DeWolf and H A C Tilmans, J. Micromech. Microeng.,15 (2005) S89–S96. [3] C.J. Oshman, B. Shi, C. Li, R. Yang, Y.C. Lee, G.P. Peterson, and V.M. Bright, J. Microelectromechanical Systems, 20, 2 (2011), 410-417. [4] T. Rude, J. Subramanian, J. Levin, D. Van Heerden, O. Knio, Proc. IMAPS 2005. [5] G. B. Tepolt, M. J. Meschera, J. J. LeBlanca, R. Lutwakb, M. Varghesec, Proc. of SPIE, Vol. 7592, 2010, 759207. [6] E. M. Petrie, Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants, 1st Ed. (McGraw-Hill, 1999), p. 707. [7] C.-D. Ghiu, S. Dalmia, J. Vickers, L. Carastro, W. Czakon, V. Sundaram, G. White, Proc. 1st European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference, 2006, pp.545-547.
Li-Anne Liew, Research Associate
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO

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