SU-8 Based MEMS Process with Two Metal Layers using α-Si as a Sacrificial Material

  • Khaled S. Ramadan

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Polymer based microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) micromachining is finding more interest in research and applications. This is due to its low cost and less time processing compared with silicon MEMS. SU-8 is a photo-patternable polymer that is used as a structural layer for MEMS and microfluidic devices. In addition to being processed with low cost, it is a biocompatible material with good mechanical properties. Also, amorphous silicon (α-Si) has found use as a sacrificial layer in silicon MEMS applications. α-Si can be deposited at large thicknesses for MEMS applications and also can be released in a dry method using XeF2 which can solve stiction problems related to MEMS applications. In this thesis, an SU-8 MEMS process is developed using amorphous silicon (α-Si) as a sacrificial layer. Electrostatic actuation and sensing is used in many MEMS applications. SU-8 is a dielectric material which limits its direct use in electrostatic actuation. This thesis provides a MEMS process with two conductive metal electrodes that can be used for out-of-plane electrostatic applications like MEMS switches and variable capacitors. The process provides the fabrication of dimples that can be conductive or non-conductive to facilitate more flexibility for MEMS designers. This SU-8 process can fabricate SU-8 MEMS structures of a single layer of two different thicknesses. Process parameters were tuned for two sets of thicknesses which are thin (5-10μm) and thick (130μm). Chevron bent-beam structures and different suspended beams (cantilevers and bridges) were fabricated to characterize the SU-8 process through extracting the density, Young’s Modulus and the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) of SU-8. Also, the process was tested and used as an educational tool through which different MEMS structures were fabricated including MEMS switches, variable capacitors and thermal actuators.
Date of AwardApr 2012
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorIan Foulds (Supervisor)


  • SU-8 MEMS
  • Electrostatic Actuation
  • α-Si sacrificial layer

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