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13-10-2010, 09:53 AM

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Cost effective packaging and robust reliability are two critical factors for successful commercialization of MEMS and microsystems. While packaging contributes to the effective production cost of MEMS devices, reliability addresses consumer’s confidence in and expectation on sustainable performance of the products. There are a number of factors that contribute to the reliability of MEMS; packaging, in particular, in bonding and sealing, material characterization relating to operating and environmental conditions, credible design considerations, the techniques for mitigating intrinsic stresses/strains induced by fabrications and testing for reliability are a few of these factors. This paper will offer an overview of these factors with proposed resolutions to issues relating to the reliability of these products.
Reliability is a critical issue in any industrial and consumer product development. The products using MEMS technology is no exception. The central issue of reliability is that no matter how sophisticated a product is designed and manufactured, it becomes useless if it fails to deliver the designed performance during the expected lifetime. MEMS products are becoming increasingly common essential components of modern engineering systems such as the airbag (or inertia) sensors in automotive industry, surgical devices and implantable biosensors in medicine, optical switches and RF waveguides in telecommunications, and the navigation, safe and arm in aerospace applications. Reliability of these products is particularly critical as failure of these products can be catastrophic and devastating. Reliability is also recognized by the engineering community and industrial sectors as a major hurdle to commercialization of MEMS. MEMS products are designed to perform a variety of functions of electromechanical, chemical, optical, biological and thermohydraulic natures. Mechanisms that cause failure of MEMS devices thus vary significantly from one type to another. Design for reliability of these devices is also significantly different from most other engineering systems.

Many view microsystems to include microelectronics, in particular, the integrated circuits (ICs) and microelectromechaincal systems (MEMS) [1]. There appears to be a common perception that packaging of MEMS is a natural evolution of the IC packaging and that the two packaging technologies are not significantly different. This misconception evolves from the fact that most silicon-based MEMS and microsystems are produced by using the same microfabrication processes developed for the ICs. The reality, however, is that there are significant differences in packaging of these two microsystems [2, 3]. Table 1 will show that the two microsystems, i.e. the MEMS and ICs are indeed different in many ways. The complexity of MEMS in the structural geometry and expected performances over those of the ICs as indicated in Table 1 has lead to the necessity of developing sophisticated techniques for the assembly, packaging and testing for MEMS. Such complexity, along with several other factors is the principal reasons for rather different techniques for the packaging of MEMS. Current awkward packaging and thus poor reliability of MEMS has been a major stumbling block in successful commercialization of MEMS.
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03-02-2012, 12:07 PM

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