Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Victor M. Bright

Second Advisor

George D. Skidmore

Third Advisor

Steven M. George

Fourth Advisor

Y.C. Lee

Fifth Advisor

Juliet T. Gopinath

Abstract

This research focuses on the incorporation of atomic layer deposition (ALD) materials into microbolometer devices for infrared (IR) imaging. Microbolometers are suspended micro-electromechanical (MEMS) devices, which respond electrically to absorbed IR radiation. By minimizing the heat capacity (thermal mass) of these devices, their performance may be substantially improved. Thus, implementing ultra-thin freestanding ALD materials into microbolometer devices will offer a substantial reduction in the overall heat capacity of the device. A novel nanofabrication method is developed to produce robust ultra-thin suspended structures from ALD generated materials including W, Ru and Al2O3. Unique aspects of ALD such as high conformality offer the ability to create 3-dimensional structures with mechanical reinforcement. Additionally, the ability to tune residual stresses via atomically precise thickness control enables the fabrication of flat suspended structures. Since microbolometer elements are electro-thermally active, the electro-thermal properties of ultra-thin ALD W, Ru and Al2O3 are investigated. Several distinct deviations from bulk electro-thermal properties of resistivity, temperature coefficient of resistance, thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity are identified and interpreted with traditional nanoscale transport modeling and theory. For example, for ALD W, the electrical resistivity is increased by up to 99%, thermal conductivity is reduced by up to 91% and specific heat capacity increased 70% from bulk. Finally, the developed ALD nano-fabrication process and measured ALD material properties are combined to fabricate an industrial level, state-of-the-art microbolometer pixel structure with 1.4X performance improvement. Further microbolomter performance enhancements based on the developed nanofabrication methods and electro-thermal measurements are discussed.

Share

COinS