Polymer Microfabrication Techniques for Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS)

Period of Performance: 01/29/2002 - 08/25/2002

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Microsound Systems
1420 N.W. Gilman, Suite 2651
Issaquah, WA 98027
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Industry and the military have strong unmet needs for greater miniaturization and efficiency of device functions including sensing, switching, robotics, microfluidics, optics, and power generation. Micromachining of polymers and other materials besides silicon, when combined with technologies such as flexible high density interconnects, could provide economical solutions. Development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) has traditionally borrowed or adapted processing technology used for silicon-based integrated circuit manufacturing. This approach has serious limitations impeding widespread implementation of MEMS. A polymer-based microfabrication technology could provide functionality far beyond that of silicon-based MEMS devices and at much lower cost. Polymers could be used with microstereolithography to fabricate very large arrays of many different three-dimensional structures or devices, whereas the silicon-based technology is restricted to planar two-dimensional devices consisting of at most several layers, with arrays being limited by wafer size. In this Phase I SBIR program, MicroSound Systems proposes to investigate the use of polymers for fabricating MEMS sensors. Processing polymers for MEMS will be demonstrated by making a small set of different types of sensors in Phase I, and processes for fabricating large arrays of a variety of such devices will be developed in Phase II. Microfabrication of MEMS and sensors from new electronic and optical polymers could perform a much greater variety of sensing functions than silicon, and this would allow the manufacture of affordable sensors useful for monitoring warfighters and eaquipment, and detecting biohazards and mines.