Benzocyclobutene-based Electric Micromachines Supported on Microball Bearings: Design, Fabrication, and Characterization

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This dissertation summarizes the research activities that led to the development of the first microball-bearing-supported linear electrostatic micromotor with benzocyclobutene (BCB) low-k polymer insulating layers. The primary application of this device is long-range, high-speed linear micropositioning. The future generations of this device include rotary electrostatic micromotors and microgenerators.

The development of the first generation of microball-bearing-supported micromachines, including device theory, design, and modeling, material characterization, process development, device fabrication, and device test and characterization is presented. The first generation of these devices is based on a 6-phase, bottom-drive, linear, variable-capacitance micromotor (B-LVCM). The design of the electrical and mechanical components of the micromotor, lumped-circuit modeling of the device and electromechanical characteristics, including variable capacitance, force, power, and speed are presented. Electrical characterization of BCB polymers, characterization of BCB chemical mechanical planarization (CMP), development of embedded BCB in silicon (EBiS) process, and integration of device components using microfabrication techniques are also presented.

The micromotor consists of a silicon stator, a silicon slider, and four stainless-steel microballs. The aligning force profile of the micromotor was extracted from simulated and measured capacitances of all phases. An average total aligning force of 0.27 mN with a maximum of 0.41 mN, assuming a 100 V peak-to-peak square-wave voltage, was measured. The operation of the micromotor was verified by applying square-wave voltages and characterizing the slider motion. An average slider speed of 7.32 mm/s when excited by a 40 Hz, 120 V square-wave voltage was reached without losing the synchronization.

This research has a pivotal impact in the field of power microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). It establishes the foundation for the development of more reliable, efficient electrostatic micromachines with variety of applications such as micropropulsion, high-speed micropumping, microfluid delivery, and microsystem power generation.