Piezoelectrically-Transduced Silicon Micromechanical Resonators

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Sivapurapu, Abhishek
Ayazi, Farrokh
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This thesis reports on the design and fabrication of micro-electro-mechanical (MEM) resonators on silicon that are piezoelectrically-transduced for operation in the very high frequency (VHF) range. These devices have a block-type or beam-type design, and are designed to resonate in their in-plane and out-of-plane bulk extensional modes. Two piezoelectric materials were taken into consideration, zinc-oxide (ZnO) and lead-zirconate-titanate (PZT). The resonators are fabricated on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers and the metal/piezo/metal stack of layers forming the device is built and patterned on the device layer silicon via photolithography techniques, RF sputtering (for the piezo-layer) and electron-beam evaporation (for the metal layers). The designing aspect involved ANSYS simulations of the mode-shapes and estimation of frequencies, and these have correlated well with experimental results. Devices with RF sputtered ZnO were successfully fabricated and tested to give high quality factors at reasonably high frequencies. A gold ground plane was implemented to reduce the feed-through level and increase the signal-to-noise ratio. Extensive characterization of PZT was also done as a replacement for ZnO, as the former material has a much higher piezoelectric coefficient (~20X that of ZnO) and can therefore extend the operation of these MEM resonators into the UHF range. Although the basic design of the device remains the same, incorporation of PZT complicates the process flow considerably with respect to the chemistry now involved with the patterning of different layers. The frequency response for ZnO-based resonators as well as all the characterization data for PZT has been reported.
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