|Publication number||USRE36136 E|
|Application number||US 08/627,598|
|Publication date||Mar 9, 1999|
|Filing date||Apr 4, 1996|
|Priority date||Jul 16, 1986|
|Also published as||US5300915|
|Publication number||08627598, 627598, US RE36136 E, US RE36136E, US-E-RE36136, USRE36136 E, USRE36136E|
|Inventors||Robert E. Higashi, James O. Holmen, Robert G. Johnson|
|Original Assignee||Honeywell Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (38), Non-Patent Citations (18), Referenced by (13), Classifications (11), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The field of the invention is in a two-level infrared bolometer array based on a pitless microbridge detector structure with integrated circuitry on a silicon substrate beneath.
This invention is directed to a pixel size sensor of an array of sensors for an infrared pitless microbridge construction of high fill factor. In this invention the large fill factor (>75%) is made possible by placing the detector microbridge on a second plane above the silicon surface carrying the integrated diode and bus lines.
Prior art microbridge thermal detector arrays in a silicon substrate have been fabricated and one such example is shown in the U.S. Pat. No. 3,801,949. In these prior art references, the small pixels have a low fill factor because the detector, the bus lines and the diode are all in the same plane each using a substantial share of the available pixel area.
FIG. 1 is an elevation view of the two-level detector.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the lower level of the two-level detector.
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the top plane of the detector.
FIG. 3a shows adjoining detectors.
FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of a pixel circuit and connections.
FIGS. 5 and 6 show perspective and top views of an array of the two level detectors.
The elevation and/or cross section view of the two-level pitless microbridge bolometer pixel 10 is shown in FIG. 1. The device 10 has two levels, an elevated microbridge detector level 11 and a lower level 12. The lower level has a flat surfaced semiconductor substrate 13, such as a single crystal silicon substrate. The surface 14 of the silicon substrate 13 has fabricated thereon several components of in integrated circuit 15 including diodes, x and y bus lines, connections, and contact pads at the ends of the x and y bus lines, the fabrication following conventional silicon IC technology. The integrated circuit 15 is coated with a protective layer of silicon nitride 16. A top plan view of the lower level is shown in FIG. 2 and comprises a y-diode metal (via) and a x-diode metal (via), chrome-gold-chrome x and y bus lines, a y-side bus conductor contact 18, an x-side contact 19, and the silicon nitride protective layer. The valley strip 17 is the area not covered by the elevated detector.
Referring again to FIG. 1, the elevated detector level 11 includes a silicon nitride layer 20, a serpentine metallic resistive layer 21, such as of nickel-iron, often called permalloy, a silicon nitride layer 22 over the layers 20 and 21, and an IR absorber coating 23 over the silicon nitride layer 22. The absorber coating may also be of a nickel-iron alloy. Downwardly extending silicon nitride layers 20' and 22' deposited at the same time during the fabrication make up the four sloping support legs for the elevated detector level. The number of support legs may be greater or less than four. The cavity 26 (approximately 3 microns high) between the two levels is ambient atmosphere. During the fabrication process, however, the cavity 26 was originally filled with a previously deposited layer of easily dissolvable glass or other dissolvable material until the layers 20, 20' and 22, 22' were deposited. Subsequently in the process the glass was dissolved out to leave the cavity. In FIG. 1 the horizontal dimension, as shown, is greatly foreshortened for descriptive purposes. That is, the height of FIG. 1 is greatly exaggerated in the drawing compared to the length in order to show the details of the invention.
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the elevated detector level 11. This drawing is made as though the overlying absorber coating 23 and upper silicon nitride layer 22 are transparent so the tine resistive layer path 21 can be shown. The exact layout of the serpentine pattern 21 is not significant to the invention. The resistive lines and spaces may be about 1.5 micron. Permalloy was selected as the material for the resistive path 21 in one embodiment because of its relatively high resistivity together with a good temperature coefficient of resistance. In one embodiment, the . .resistivity.!. .Iadd.resistance .Iaddend.was on the order of 2500 ohms, with a fill factor of about 75%. The ends of the resistive paths 21a and 21b are continued down the slope area 30 to make electrical contact with pads 31 and 32 on the lower level.
FIG. 3 also shows nitride window cuts 35, 36 and 37 which are opened through the silicon nitride layers 20 and 22 to provide access to the phos-glass beneath for dissolving it from beneath the detector plane. These nitride cuts may be made by ion milling or other suitable process It may be noted that the ion milled cuts 35, 36, 37 to provide this access are very narrow (<2 microns) and are shared with adjacent pixels on the sides, (see FIG. 3a), thus maximizing the area available to the detector and thus maximizing the resulting fill-factor. The four supporting legs may be as short or as long as necessary to provide adequate support and thermal isolation. With the detector thickness of 3000A or less, the thermal impedance is high over the entire detector film. Consequently, short legs should not contribute excessively to the conductance, FIG. 3a shows that the adjacent identical pixels are in close proximity.
FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of a pixel circuit shown in the other figures comprising the sensing element 21 and the connections to it which are clearly labeled on the drawing.
Although the description has been basically in terms of individual detector pixels, the invention is directed to an x,y array assembly of adjoining pixels forming an imaging or mosaic detector array. Each pixel assembly may cover an area about 50 microns on a side, for example. FIG. 5 and 6 as well as FIG. 3 show a section of the array. FIG. 5 shows in perspective the sensing ridges of abutting sensors in a column. This figure is partially cutaway to show the lower level and the cavity as well. The ridges may be about 40 microns wide, so that the elevated detector pixels 11 are on the order of 50×40 microns.
FIG. 6 is a top view block diagram of FIG. 5. In the operation of an array of this general type a suitable IR lens system is usually used to focus a scene onto the array of pixels. A chopper may be used if desired to interrupt the incoming IR energy in synchronism with the related utilizing video electronics. The focused scene heats each pixel according to the energy of the received scene at each pixel position and changes the resistance of the resistive layer 21 according to the pixel temperature.
Further described below is a sequence of fabrication steps for the upper level. Following the deposition of the silicon nitride layer 16 in fabricating the lower level 12 and the cuts of the x-side contact area 19, the y-side bus conductor contact area 18, the cuts of the x-pads and y-pads, the lower level of electronic components and conductors is complete. The construction of the upper level 11 is then ready to commence. A layer of phos-glass or other easily soluble material approximately 3 microns thick is deposited and delineated along x-direction strips and the strip slopes 30 and 30' are thoroughly rounded to eliminate slope coverage problems. In the delineation the glass is cut to less than one micron on the strip 17. The remaining glass is cut to open the strip, and the external glass areas including the x-pad and y-pad. The upper plane silicon nitride base layer 20 is then deposited, the nickel-iron resistance layer 21 is deposited, delineated, and connected to the lower . .plan.!. .Iadd.plane .Iaddend.contacts 18 and 19, and covered with silicone nitride passivation layer 22. The trim site 40 (FIG. 3) is cut, x-pads and y-pads are opened, the absorber coating 23 is deposited and delineated, and finally the side slots 35, 36 and 37 are ion milled allowing the phos-glass to be dissolved from beneath the detector plane.
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|U.S. Classification||338/18, 338/15, 338/225, 250/338.1, 29/612|
|Cooperative Classification||G01J5/20, Y10T29/49085, H01L27/16|
|European Classification||G01J5/20, H01L27/16|
|Sep 28, 2001||FPAY||Fee payment|
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|Oct 7, 2005||FPAY||Fee payment|
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