Sealing of micromachined cavities using chemical vapor deposition methods: characterization and optimization

Chang Liu, Yu Chong Tai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


This paper presents results of a systematic investigation to characterize the sealing of micromachined cavities using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) methods. We have designed and fabricated a large number and variety of surface-micromachined test structures with different etch-channel dimensions. Each cavity is then subjected to a number of sequential CVD deposition steps with incremental thickness until the cavity is successfully sealed. At etch deposition interval, the sealing status of every test structure is experimentally obtained and the percentage of structures that are sealed is recorded. Four CVD sealing materials have been incorporated in our studies: LPCVD silicon nitride, LPCVD polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon), LPCVD phosphosilicate glass (PSG), and PECVD silicon nitride. The minimum CVD deposition thickness that is required to successfully seal a microstructure is obtained for the first time. For a typical Type-1 test structure that has eight etch channels - each 10 μm long, 4 μm wide, and 0.42 μm tall - the minimum required thickness (normalized with respect to the height of etch channels) is 0.67 for LPCVD silicon nitride, 0.62 for LPCVD polysilicon, 4.5 for LPCVD PSG, and 5.2 for PECVD nitride. LPCVD silicon nitride and polysilicon are the most efficient sealing materials. Sealing results with respect to etch-channel dimensions (length and width) are evaluated (within the range of current design). When LPCVD silicon nitride is used as the sealing material, test structures with the longest (38 μm) and widest (16 μm) etch channels exhibit the highest probability of sealing. Cavities with a reduced number of etch channels seal more easily. For LPCVD PSG sealing, on the other hand, the sealing performance improves with decreasing width but is not affected by length of etch channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Sealing of micromachined cavities using chemical vapor deposition methods: characterization and optimization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this