Thermal characterisation of miniature hotplates used in gas sensing technology




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


The reliability of micro-electronic devices depends on the device operating temperature and therefore self-heating can have an adverse effect on the performance and reliability of these devices. Hence, thermal measurement is crucial including accurate maximum operating temperature measurements to ensure optimum reliability and good electrical performance. In the research presented in this thesis, the high temperature thermal characterisation of novel micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) infra-red (IR) emitter chips for use in gas sensing technology for stable long-term operation were studied, using both IR and a novel thermo-incandescence microscopy.

The IR emitters were fabricated using complementary-metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) based processing technology and consisted of a miniature micro-heater, fabricated using tungsten metallisation. There is a commercial drive to include MEMS micro-heaters in portable electronic applications including gas sensors and miniaturised IR spectrometers where low power consumption is required.

IR thermal microscopy was used to thermally characterise these miniature MEMS micro-heaters to temperatures approaching 700 °C. The research work has also enabled further development of novel thermal measurement techniques, using carbon microparticle infra-red sensors (MPIRS) with the IR thermal microscopy. These microparticle sensors, for the first time, have been used to make more accurate high temperature (approaching 700 °C) spot measurements on the IR transparent semiconductor membrane of the micro-heater.

To substantially extend the temperature measurement range of the IR thermal microscope, and to obtain the thermal profiles at elevated temperatures (> 700 °C), a novel thermal measurement approach has been developed by calibrating emitted incandescence radiation in the optical region as a function of temperature. The calibration was carried out using the known melting point (MP) of metal microparticles. The method has been utilised to obtain the high temperature thermo-optical characterisation of the MEMS micro-heaters to temperatures in excess of 1200 °C. The measured temperature results using thermo-incandescence microscopy were compared with calculated electrical temperature results. The results indicated the thermo-incandescence measurements are in reasonable agreement (± 3.5 %) with the electrical temperature approach. Thus, the measurement technique using optical incandescent radiation extends the range of conventional IR microscopy and shows a great potential for making very high temperature spot measurements on electronic devices.

The high power (> 500mW) electrical characterisation of the MEMS micro-heaters were also analysed to assess the reliability. The electrical performance results on the MEMS micro-heaters indicated failures at temperatures greater than 1300 °C and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) was used to analyse the failure modes.





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