Faculté des sciences et techniques de l'ingénieur STI, Programme doctoral Microsystèmes et Microélectronique, Institut de microélectronique et microsystèmes IMM (Laboratoire d'électronique générale 2 LEG2)

Design and fabrication of suspended-gate MOSFETs for MEMS resonator, switch and memory applications

Abelé, Nicolas ; Ionescu, Mihai Adrian (Dir.) ; Ancey, Pascal (Dir.)

Thèse sciences Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL : 2007 ; no 3838.

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    Wireless communication systems and handset devices are showing a rapid growth in consumer and military applications. Applications using wireless communication standards such as personal connectivity devices (Bluetooth), mobile systems (GSM, UMTS, WCDMA) and wireless sensor network are the opportunities and challenges for the semi-conductor industry. The trend towards size and weight reduction, low power consumption and increased functionalities induces major technological issues. Today, the wireless circuit size is limited by the use of lots of external or "off-chip" components. Among them, quartz crystal, used as the time reference in any wireless systems, is the bottleneck of the miniaturization. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is an emerging technology which has the capability of replacing the quartz. Based on similar technology than the Integrated Circuit (IC), MEMS are referred as electrostatically, thermally or piezoelectrically actuated mechanical structures. In this thesis, a new MEMS device based on the hybridization of a mechanical vibrating structure and a solid-sate MOS transistor has been developed. The Resonant Suspended-Gate MOSFET (RSG-MOSFET) device combines both advantages of a high mechanical quality factor and the transistor intrinsic gain. The physical mechanisms behind the actuation and the behavior of this device were deeply investigated and a quasi-static model was developed and validated, based on measured characteristics. Furthermore, the dynamic model of the RSG-MOSFET was created, taking into account the non-linear mechanical vibrations of the gate and the EKV model, used for MOSFET modeling. Two fabrication processes were successfully developed to demonstrate the proof of concept of such a device and to optimize the performances respectively. Aluminum-silicon (Al-Si1%) and pure silicon-based RSG-MOSFETs were successfully fabricated. DC and AC characterizations on both devices enabled to understand, extract and evaluate the mechanical and MOSFET effects. A specifically developed RF characterization methodology was used to measure the linear and non-linear behaviors of the resonator and to evaluate the influence of each polarization voltages on the signal response. RSG-MOSFET with resonant frequencies ranging from 5MHz to 90MHz and quality factor up to 1200 were measured. Since MEMS resonator quality factor is strongly degraded by air damping, a 0-level thin film vacuum packaging (10-7 mBar) process was developed, compatible with both AlSi-based and silicon-based RSG-MOSFET. The technology has the unique advantage of being done on already released structure and the room temperature process makes it suitable for above-IC integration. In parallel, a front-end compatible process was defined and major build blocks were developed in industrial environment at STMicroelectronics. This technology is based on the Silicon-On-Nothing technology, originally developed for advanced transistor, and therefore making the MEMS resonator process compatible with CMOS co-integration. DC characterizations of SG-MOSFET had shown interesting performances of this device for current switch and memory applications. Mechanical contact of the gate with the MOSFET channel induces a current switching slope greater than 0.8mV/decade, much better than the theoretical MOSFET limit of 60mV/decade. Maximum switch isolations of -37dB at 2 GHz and -27dB at 10GHz were measured on these devices. A novel MEMS-memory has been demonstrated, based on the direct charge injection to the storage media by the mechanical contact of the metal gate. Charge injection and retention mechanisms were investigated based on measured devices. Cycling study of up to 105 cycles were performed without noticing major degradations of the electrical behavior neither mechanical fatigue of the suspended gate. The measured retention time places this memory in between the DRAM and the FLASH memories. A scaling study has shown integration and compatibilities capabilities with existing CMOS.