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Publication numberUS20060238852 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/907,992
Publication dateOct 26, 2006
Filing dateApr 22, 2005
Priority dateApr 22, 2005
Also published asCN101164005A, EP1875296A1, EP1875296A4, US7630120, US20080130079, WO2006116282A1
Publication number10907992, 907992, US 2006/0238852 A1, US 2006/238852 A1, US 20060238852 A1, US 20060238852A1, US 2006238852 A1, US 2006238852A1, US-A1-20060238852, US-A1-2006238852, US2006/0238852A1, US2006/238852A1, US20060238852 A1, US20060238852A1, US2006238852 A1, US2006238852A1
InventorsMark Strumpell
Original AssigneeTexas Instruments Incorporated
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
A non-contacting electrostatically-driven mems device
US 20060238852 A1
Abstract
An improved microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) device, which eliminates, or at least reduces, “stiction” is described. The MEMS device includes a central electrode and a pair of outer electrodes formed on a substrate. The central electrode includes a plurality of extensions defining a plurality of grooves interspersed with the extensions. The outer electrodes include a plurality of extensions disposed within the grooves of the central electrode.
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Claims(20)
1. A microelectromechanical device, comprising:
a substrate;
a first electrode formed on the substrate, the first electrode having at least one extension extending from a first portion of the first electrode and at least one extension extending from a second portion of the first electrode, the second portion being substantially opposed to the first portion;
a second electrode formed on the substrate substantially adjacent to the first portion of the first electrode, the second electrode having at least one extension extending towards the first electrode; and
a third electrode formed on the substrate substantially adjacent to the second portion of the first electrode, the third electrode having at least one extension extending towards the first electrode;
wherein the at least one extension of the first portion of the first electrode substantially overlaps the at least one extension of the second electrode and the at least one extension of the second portion of the first electrode substantially overlaps the at least one extension of the third electrode.
2. A device according to claim 1, wherein the at least one extension extending from a first portion of the first electrode is a plurality of extensions spaced from one another to define a plurality of grooves interspersed with the plurality of extensions.
3. A device according to claim 2, wherein the at least one extension extending from a second portion of the first electrode is a plurality of extensions spaced from one another to define a plurality of grooves interspersed with the plurality of extensions.
4. A device according to claim 3, wherein the at least one extension of the second electrode is a plurality of extensions disposed within a plurality of grooves corresponding to the first portion of the first electrode.
5. A device according to claim 4, wherein the at least one extension of the third electrode is a plurality of extensions disposed within a plurality of grooves corresponding to the second portion of the first electrode.
6. A device according to claim 3, wherein at least one of the plurality of extensions extending from each of the first and second portions of the first electrode has a polygonal geometric shape.
7. A device according to claim 6, wherein the polygonal geometric shape is selected from the group consisting of a triangle, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram, a diamond, and a trapezoid.
8. A device according to claim 3, wherein at least one of the plurality of extensions extending from each of the first and second portions of the first electrode has a plane curve geometric shape.
9. A device according to claim 8, wherein the plane curve geometric shape is selected from the group consisting of a circle, a semi-circle, an ellipse, a semi-ellipse, a line, a parabola, and a hyperbola.
10. A device according to claim 3, wherein at least one of the plurality of extensions extending from each of the second and third electrodes has a polygonal geometric shape.
11. A device according to claim 10, wherein the polygonal geometric shape is selected from the group consisting of a triangle, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram, a diamond, and a trapezoid.
12. A device according to claim 3, wherein at least one of the plurality of extensions extending from each of the second and third electrodes has a plane curve geometric shape.
13. A device according to claim 12, wherein the plane curve geometric shape is selected from the group consisting of a circle, a semi-circle, an ellipse, a semi-ellipse, a line, a parabola, and a hyperbola.
14. A device according to claim 1, further comprising a yoke operatively secured to the substrate, the yoke having a groove formed therein.
15. A device according to claim 14, further comprising a pixel mirror operatively secured to the yoke, the pixel mirror having a downwardly extending post for engagement with the groove formed in the yoke.
16. A device according to claim 1, wherein the first electrode comprises a plurality of electrodes.
17. A microelectromechanical device, comprising:
a substrate;
a first electrode formed on the substrate, the first electrode having a plurality of spaced apart extensions extending from opposing sides of the first electrode, the spaced apart extensions defining a plurality of grooves interspersed with the extensions;
a pair of additional electrodes formed on the substrate adjacent to the opposing sides of the first electrode, the additional electrodes having a plurality of spaced apart extensions disposed within the grooves defined at opposing sides of the first electrode;
wherein the at least one extension of the first portion of the first electrode substantially overlaps the at least one extension of the second electrode and the at least one extension of the second portion of the first electrode substantially overlaps the at least one extension of the third electrode.
18. A device according to claim 17, further comprising a yoke operatively secured to the substrate.
19. A device according to claim 18, further comprising a pixel mirror operatively secured to the yoke.
20. A method for reducing stiction associated with operation of microelectromechanical devices, comprising:
forming a microelectromechanical device to include a first electrode and a pair of electrodes flanking the first electrode, the first electrode interfacing with the pair of electrodes via a plurality extensions disposed within a plurality of grooves defined in the pair of electrodes, wherein the at least one extension of the first portion of the first electrode substantially overlaps the at least one extension of the second electrode and the at least one extension of the second portion of the first electrode substantially overlaps the at least one extension of the third electrode;
whereby the surface area defined at the interface between the first electrode and the pair of electrodes generates an electrostatic force large enough to overcome surface adhesion forces associated with operation of the microelectromechanical device.
Description
BACKGROUND

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices are small structures typically fabricated on a semiconductor wafer using techniques such as optical lithography, doping, metal sputtering, oxide deposition, and plasma etching, which have been developed for the fabrication of integrated circuits. Digital micromirror devices (DMDs), sometimes referred to as deformable micromirror devices, are a type of MEMS device used in projection displays by controlling light through reflection. Other types of MEMS devices include accelerometers, pressure and flow sensors, and gears and motors.

A conventional DMD 100 is illustrated in FIG. 1. As shown, the DMD 100 is constructed of three metal layers: a top layer 102, a middle layer 104, and a bottom layer 106. The three metal layers are situated over an integrated circuit (not shown), which provides electrical commands and signals. The top layer 102 includes a pixel mirror 108 that resides over the middle layer 104 supported via a mirror support post 110. The middle layer 104, in turn, resides over the bottom layer 106 supported by four hinge support posts 112. The mirror support post 110 of the top layer 102 is attached to a yoke 114. As the yoke 114 rotates on its torsion hinges 118, it drives the mirror support post 110 to rotate and tilt accordingly. Consequently, as the mirror support post 110 rotates and tilts, it dictates the angle, direction, and magnitude that the pixel mirror 108 will rotate and tilt. The yoke 114, in essence, controls the pixel mirror 108 by this relay effect.

One problem associated with a conventional MEMS device, such as the DMD 100, is “stiction”, which occurs when the yoke 114 rotates on the torsion hinges 118 and the yoke landing tips 116 come in physical contact with landing sites 120 located within the underlying bottom layer 106. In some cases, when surface adhesion forces are high enough, the yoke landing tips 116 may stick to the landing sites 120 in the underlying bottom layer 106, and thereby adversely affect the response time of the pixel mirror 108 and the overall device performance. In other cases, the landing tips 116 may adhere to the landing sites 120 and remain stuck if an applied mechanical restoring force is not strong enough to overcome the existing surface adhesion forces. The pixel mirror 108 will then be considered permanently defective because it will remain fixated at only one angle.

Stiction has heretofore been addressed by applying lubrication or passivation layers to the yoke landing tips 116 and the landing sites 120 in the hopes of making these metal surfaces slippery enough to minimize sticking. In addition, reset electronics 122 have been employed to pump additional electrical energy into the yoke 114 in order to help it break free from the constraining surface adhesion forces between the yoke landing tips 116 and the landing sites 120. These techniques require extra fabrication processes and additional cost.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure relates to a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) device, and more particularly, to an electrostatically-driven digital micromirror device (DMD) that prevents or at least reduces stiction. A central electrode includes interspersed extensions initially formed on a substrate. Two outer electrodes with interspersed extensions are subsequently formed on the substrate such that the two outer electrodes flank the central electrode. The extensions of the central and outer electrodes are interdigitated whereby a low bias voltage applied to the outer electrodes generates an electrostatic force upon the central electrode enabling a pixel mirror that is formed on top of the central electrode to freely move, rotate, and tilt.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is an exploded view of a prior-art digital micromirror device (DMD); and

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a DMD according to the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the conventional digital micromirror device (DMD) of FIG. 1, the pixel mirror 108 tilts and rotates according to the tilt and rotation of the yoke. In practice, the pixel mirror 108 also rotates and tilts due to the electrostatic forces generated by the electric fields between the pixel mirror 108 and the mirror address electrodes 113, as well as the fields generated between the yoke 114 and the yoke address electrodes 121. Electrical signals are fed and carried through metal contact holes from the underlying integrated circuit (not shown).

Reference is now made to FIG. 2, which illustrates a digital micromirror device (DMD) 200 according to the present disclosure. The DMD 200 includes a top layer 202, a middle layer 204, and a bottom layer 206. As illustrated in the figure, the top layer 202 includes a pixel mirror 208 connected to a downwardly extending mirror support post 210. The mirror support post 210 is adapted for engagement with a corresponding post-receiving hole 211 formed in the middle layer 204 as will be further described. In some embodiments, the pixel mirror 208 has a thickness of about 2,000 to 5,000 Å and is constructed of aluminum using known methods and techniques. Preferably, the thickness of the pixel mirror 208 of the presently disclosed embodiment has a thickness of about 3,300 Å. In addition to aluminum, other materials such as silicon oxide, silicon nitride, polysilicon, and phosphosilicate glass (PSG) may also be used in constructing the pixel mirror 208. In some embodiments, the mirror support post 210 has a thickness of about 500 to 1,000 Å and is constructed of an aluminum alloy using known methods and techniques. The mirror support post 210 may also be formed of aluminum, titanium, and silicon metal alloys. Preferably, the thickness of the mirror support post 210 of the presently disclosed embodiment has a thickness of about 700 Å.

The middle layer 204, disposed beneath the top layer 202, includes a yoke 212 supported by a plurality of yoke support posts 214. The yoke support posts 214 may be formed according to the same or similar materials and methods as the mirror support posts 210. Furthermore, the yoke support posts 214 may also have the same or similar thickness as that of the mirror support post 210. The middle layer 204 also includes a post-receiving hole 211, which may be formed using known materials and methods.

The bottom layer 206, situated below the middle layer 204, includes a yoke address electrode 216 and mirror address electrodes 220. The bottom layer 206 further includes contact pads 224, which are provided for receiving the yoke support posts 214. Still further, the bottom layer 206 includes a pair of metal contact openings 217 separated by the yoke address electrode 216. Of course, other metal contact opening arrangements are contemplated, such as additional metal contact openings and alternatively configured metal contact openings. Electrical signals and connections from an integrated circuit (not shown) positioned beneath the bottom layer 206 may be sent through the pair of metal contact openings 217 into either the yoke address electrode 216 or the mirror address electrodes 220. The integrated circuit may be a static random access memory (SRAM) cell or an integrated complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) device. In other embodiments, the integrated circuit may be a multi-chip module (MCM) where many devices are assembled together by stacking one on top of another into a single module for faster electronic devices with added functionalities.

The yoke address electrode 216 generally resides in a middle portion of the bottom layer 206 and is flanked by two outer mirror address electrodes 220. The yoke address electrode 216 includes a plurality of interspersed extensions 218, thereby defining a plurality of interspersed grooves 221. In one embodiment, the pluralities of interspersed extensions 218 are situated at opposing lateral sides of the yoke address electrode 216. Disposed within the plurality of grooves 221 are a plurality of corresponding interspersed extensions 222 of the laterally disposed mirror address electrodes 220. Accordingly, the extensions 218, 222 are substantially interdigitated to form a comb-like structure. In some embodiments, the yoke address electrode 216 and the two mirror address electrodes 220 have a thickness of about 500 to about 3,000 Å. Preferably, the thickness of the yoke address electrode 216 and the two mirror address electrodes 220 within the presently disclosed embodiment is about 1,500 Å. Additionally, the interspersed extensions 218, 222 may have a corresponding width and length of about 20 μm and a thickness of about 500 to about 3,000 Å. Preferably, the thickness of the interspersed extensions 218, 222 within the presently disclosed embodiment is about 1,500 Å. Still further, the spacing between the interspersed extensions 218, 222 can vary from about 5 to 10 μm. Preferably, the spacing between the interspersed extensions 218, 222 within the presently disclosed embodiment is about 7.5 μm.

Although the interspersed extensions 218, 222 are depicted as being square in shape, they can take on a variety of polygonal shapes and sizes. For example, the interspersed extensions 218, 222 may be in the shape of a rectangle, a triangle, a parallelogram, a diamond, a trapezoid or any other suitable shape. In addition, the interspersed extensions 218, 222 may also take on plane-curve shapes such as circles, semi-circles, ellipses, semi-ellipses, lines, parabolas, or hyperbolas. Furthermore, the interspersed extensions 218, 222 may be uniformly spaced or non-uniformly spaced and uniform in shape and size or non-uniform in shape and size. Uniform and non-uniform combinations of shapes and sizes are also contemplated.

One benefit of the DMD 200 is realized through the amount of electrostatic force that can be generated between the extensions 218, 222. In particular, an electrostatic force F acting upon a charged object Q1 as a result of the presence of another charged object Q2 can be calculated by Coulomb's law (F=k×Q1×Q2/d2), where k is a constant and d is the distance between the objects. The magnitude of a charged object Q can be calculated by multiplying the surface density σ with the surface area of the charged object A (Q=σA). Accordingly, the electrostatic force F scales proportionally with the surface area of the charged object A (FαA). The DMD 200 has a larger surface area when compared with conventional DMDs, such as DMD 100 of FIG. 1. More specifically, the interspersed extensions 218, 222 increase the surface area of the electrodes of the DMD 200, thereby facilitating the generation of a greater electrostatic force than that of a conventional DMD 100.

In practice, an electrostatic field is generated by pulsing the mirror address electrodes 220. The generated electric field in turn generates an electrostatic force that causes the pixel mirror 208 to tilt or rotate. Unlike a conventional DMD 100, wherein the pixel mirror 108 can experience stiction during tilting or rotation, the DMD 200 can generate much greater electrostatic forces thereby eliminating or at least reducing the chance that the pixel mirror 208 will stick to underlying layers of the DMD 200. In addition, the increased electrostatic force eliminates the need for reset electronics.

It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the invention can be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential character thereof. For example, the DMD 200 may be manufactured by surface micromachining, where the structures are built up in layers of thin film on the surface of a silicon wafer or any other suitable substrate. Another technique of manufacturing a DMD is bulk micromachining. In addition, the presently disclosed embodiments may also be applied to MEMS devices for useful applications in the study and understanding of biological proteins and gene functions. The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore considered in all respects to be illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is indicated by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description, and all changes that come within the meaning and ranges of equivalents thereof are intended to be embraced therein.

Additionally, the section headings herein are provided for consistency with the suggestions under 37 C.F.R. § 1.77 or otherwise to provide organizational cues. These headings shall not limit or characterize the invention(s) set out in any claims that may issue from this disclosure. A description of a technology in the “Background” is not to be construed as an admission that technology is prior art to any embodiment(s) in this disclosure. Neither is the “Summary” to be considered as a characterization of the embodiment(s) set forth in the claims found herein. Furthermore, any reference in this disclosure to “embodiment” in the singular should not be used to argue that there is only a single point of novelty claimed in this disclosure. Multiple embodiments may be set forth according to the limitations of the multiple claims associated with this disclosure, and the claims accordingly define the embodiment(s), and their equivalents, that are protected thereby. In all instances, the scope of the claims shall be considered on their own merits in light of the specification, but should not be constrained by the headings set forth herein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7605964 *Mar 29, 2007Oct 20, 2009Angstrom, Inc.Array of micromirrors with non-fixed underlying structures
Classifications
U.S. Classification359/291
International ClassificationG02B26/00
Cooperative ClassificationG02B26/0841
European ClassificationG02B26/08M4E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 22, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INCORPORATED, TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:STRUMPELL, MARK H;REEL/FRAME:015936/0942
Effective date: 20050420