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SOI for MEMS, NEMS, sensors and more at IEDM ’14 (Part 3 of 3 in ASN’s IEDM coverage)

Posted by on January 12, 2015
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iedm_logoImportant SOI-based developments in MEMS, NEMS (like MEMS but N for nano), sensors and energy harvesting shared the spotlight with advanced CMOS and future devices at IEDM 2014 (15-17 December in San Francisco). IEDM is the world’s showcase for the most important applied research breakthroughs in transistors and electronics technology.

Here in Part 3, we’ll cover these remaining areas. (In Part 1 of ASN’s IEDM coverage, we had a rundown of the top papers on FD-SOI and SOI-FinFETs. Part 2 looked at papers covering future device architectures leveraging SOI.)

Summaries culled from the abstracts follow.


4.2: Three-Dimensional Integrated CMOS Image Sensors with Pixel-Parallel A/D Converters Fabricated by Direct Bonding of SOI Layers

M. Gotoet al (NHK Research Labs, U Tokyo)

This illustration (a) shows a schematic diagram of the 3D integrated CMOS image sensor; (b) shows a conceptual diagram of the image sensor pixel; (c) is a cross-sectional scanning electron microscope image of a bonded CMOS image sensor pixel with no voids observed at the bonded interface and with the upper layer thinned to 6.5 µm; and (d) is a photograph of the bonded CMOS image sensor array, where 60-µm-square photodiodes (PD) are stacked on inverters.(NHK paper 4.2 at IEDM '14)

This illustration (a) shows a schematic diagram of the 3D integrated CMOS image sensor; (b) shows a conceptual diagram of the image sensor pixel; (c) is a cross-sectional scanning electron microscope image of a bonded CMOS image sensor pixel with no voids observed at the bonded interface and with the upper layer thinned to 6.5 µm; and (d) is a photograph of the bonded CMOS image sensor array, where 60-µm-square photodiodes (PD) are stacked on inverters.(NHK paper 4.2 at IEDM ’14)

The resolutions and frame rates of CMOS image sensors have increased greatly to meet demands for higher-definition video systems, but their design may soon be obsolete. That’s because photodetectors and signal processors lie in the same plane, on the substrate, and many pixels must time-share a signal processor. That makes it difficult to improve signal processing speed. NHK researchers developed a 3D parallel-processing architecture they call “pixel-parallel” processing, where each pixel has its own signal processor. Photodetectors and signal processors are built in different vertically stacked layers. The signal from each pixel is vertically transferred and processed in individual stacks.

3D stacking doesn’t degrade spatial resolution, so both high resolution and a high frame rate are achieved. 3D stacked image sensors have been reported previously, but they either didn’t have a signal processor in each stack or they used TSV/microbump technology, reducing resolution. NHK discusses how photodiode and inverter layers were bonded with damascened gold electrodes to provide each pixel with analog-to-digital conversion and a pulse frequency output. A 64-pixel prototype sensor was built, which successfully captured video images and had a wide dynamic range of >80 dB, with the potential to be increased to >100dB.


4.5: Experimental Demonstration of a Stacked SOI Multiband Charged-Coupled Device

C.-E. Chang et al (Stanford, SLAC)

Multiband light absorption and charge extraction in a stacked SOI multiband CCD are experimentally demonstrated for the first time. This proof of concept is a key step in the realization of the technology which promises multiple-fold efficiency improvements in color imaging over current filter- and prism-based approaches.


15.4: A Semiconductor Bio-electrical Platform with Addressable Thermal Control for Accelerated Bioassay Development

T.-T. Chen et al (TSMC, U Illinois),

In this work, the researchres introduce a bioelectrical platform consisting of field effect transistor (FET) bio-sensors, temperature sensors, heaters, peripheral analog amplifiers and digital controllers, fabricated by a 0.18μm SOI-CMOS process technology. The bio-sensor, formed by a sub-micron FET with a high-k dielectric sensing film, exhibits near-Nernst sensitivity (56-59 mV/pH) for ionic detection. There were also 128×128 arrays tested by monitoring changes in enzyme reactions and DNA hybridization. The electrical current changes correlated to changes in pH reaching -1.387μA/pH with 0.32μA standard variation. The detection of urine level via an enzyme(urease)-catalyzed reaction has been demonstrated to a 99.9% linearity with 0.1μL sample volume. And the detection of HBV DNA was also conducted to a 400mV equivalent surface potential change between 1 μM matched and mismatched DNA. As a proof of concept, they demonstrated the capabilities of the device in terms of detections of enzymatic reaction and immobilization of bio-entities.  The proposed highly integrated devices have the potential to largely expand its applications to all the heat-mediated bioassays, particularly with 1-2 order faster thermal response within only 0.5% thermal coupling and smaller volume samples. This work presents an array device consisting of multiple cutting-edge semiconductor components to assist the development of electrical bio assays for medical applications.



22.1: Nanosystems Monolithically Integrated with CMOS: Emerging Applications and Technologies

J. Arcamone et al (U Grenoble, Leti, Minatec),

This paper reviews the last major realizations in the field of monolithic integration of NEMS with CMOS. This integration scheme drastically improves the efficiency of the electrical detection of the NEMS motion. It also represents a compulsory milestone to practically implement breakthrough applications of NEMS, such as mass spectrometry, that require large capture cross section (VLSI-arrayed NEMS) and individual addressing (co-integration of NEMS arrays with CMOS electronic loop).


22.2: A Self-sustained Nanomechanical Thermal-piezoresistive Oscillator with Ultra-Low Power Consumption

K.-H. Li et al (National Tsing Hua U)

This work demonstrates wing-type thermal-piezoresistive oscillators operating at about 840 kHz under vacuum with ultralow power consumption of only 70 µW for the first time. The thermally-actuated piezoresistively-sensed (i.e., thermalpiezoresistive) resonator can achieve self-sustained oscillation using a sufficient dc bias current through its thermal beams without additional electronic circuits. By using proper control of silicon etching (ICP) recipe, the submicron cross-sectional dimension of the thermal beams can be easily and reproducibly fabricated in one process step.


22.4: High Performance Polysilicon Nanowire NEMS for CMOS Embedded Nanosensors

I. Ouerghiet al (Leti)

The researchers present for the first time sub-100nm poly-Silicon nanowire (poly-Si NW) based NEMS resonators for low-cost co-integrated mass sensors on CMOS featuring excellent performance when compared to crystalline silicon. In particular, comparable quality factors (130 in the air, 3900 in vacuum) and frequency stabilities are demonstrated when compared to crystalline Si. The minimum measured Allan deviation of 7×10-7 leads to a mass resolution detection down to 100 zg (100×10-2 g). Several poly-Si textures are compared and the impact on performances is studied (quality factor, gauge factor, Allan variances, noise, temperature dependence (TCR)). Moreover a novel method for in-line NW gauges factor (GF) extraction is proposed and used.


22.5: Integration of RF MEMS Resonators and Phononic Crystals for High Frequency Applications with Frequency-selective Heat Management and Efficient Power Handling

H. Campanella et al (A*STAR, National U Singapore)

A radio frequency micro electromechanical system (RFMEMS) Lamb-wave resonator made of aluminum nitride (AlN) that is integrated with AlN phononic crystal arrays to provide frequency-selective heat management, improved power handling capability, and more efficient electromechanical coupling at ultra high frequency (UHF) bands. RFMEMS+PnC integration is scalable to microwave bands.


22.6: A Monolithic 9 Degree of Freedom (DOF) Capacitive Inertial MEMS Platform

I. E. Ocak et al  (IME, A*STAR Singapore)

A 9 degree of freedom inertial MEMS platform, integrating 3 axis gyroscopes, accelerometers, and magnetometers on the same substrate is presented. This method reduces the assembly cost and removes the need for magnetic material deposition and axis misalignment calibration. Platform is demonstrated by comparing fabricated sensor performances with simulation results.


15.6: MEMS Tunable Laser Using Photonic Integrated Circuits

M. Ren et al (Nanyang Technological University, A*STAR)

This paper reports a monolithic MEMS tunable laser using silicon photonic integrated circuit, formed in a ring cavity. In particular, all the necessary optical functions in a ring laser system, including beam splitting/combining, isolating, coupling, are realized using the planar passive waveguide structures. Benefited from the high light-confinement capability of silicon waveguides, this design avoids beam divergence in free-space medium as suffered by conventional MEMS tunable lasers, and thus guarantees superior performance. The proposed laser demonstrates large tuning range (55.5 nm),excellent single-mode properties (50 dB side-mode-suppression ratio (SMSR) and 130 kHz linewdith), compact size (3mm × 2mm), and single-chip integration without other separated optical elements.


Energy Harvesting

8.4: A High Efficiency Frequency Pre-defined Flow-driven Energy Harvester Dominated by On-chip Modified Helmholtz Resonating Cavity

X.J. Mu et al (A*STAR)

The researchers present a novel flow-driven energy harvester with its frequency dominated by on-chip modified Helmholtz Resonating Cavity (HRC). This device harvests pneumatic kinetic energy efficiently and demonstrates a power density of 117.6 μW/cm2, peak to peak voltage of 5 V, and charging of a 1 μF capacitor in 200 ms.

8.5: Fabrication of Integrated Micrometer Platform for Thermoelectric Measurements

M. Haras et al  (IEMN, ST)

Preliminary simulations of lateral thermo-generators showed that silicon’s harvesting capabilities, through a significant thermal conductivity reduction, could compete with conventional thermoelectric materials, offering additional: CMOS compatibility; harmlessness and cost efficiency. The researchers report the fabrication and characterization of integrated platforms showing a threefold reduction of thermal conductivity in 70nm thick membranes.


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This has been the 3rd post in a 3-part series. Part 1 (click here to  read it) of ASN’s IEDM ’14 coverage gave a rundown of the top FD-SOI and SOI-FinFET papers.  Part 2 (click here to  read it) looked at papers covering SOI-based future device architectures.