This paper reports our effort to develop amorphous hydrogenated silicon carbide (a-SiC:H ) films specifically designed for MEMS applications using a semiconductor-grade organosilane known as trimethylsilane (3MS) as the precursor. In our work, the a-SiC:H films were deposited in a commercial PECVD system at a fixed temperature of 350˚C using 3MS diluted in helium (He). Films with thicknesses from ~ 100 nm to ~ 2μm, a typical range for MEMS applications, were deposited. Deposition parameters such RF power, deposition pressure, and 3MS-to-He ratio were explored to obtain films with low residual compressive stresses. Low temperature, post-deposition annealing at 450˚C was used to convert the as-deposited compressive residual stresses to moderate tensile stresses, which are desired for micromachined bridges, membranes and other anchored structures. Compositional analysis indicated that films with a Si-to-C ratio of 1 could be deposited under certain conditions. Mechanical properties such as Young’s modulus and fracture strength were derived from the load-deflection behavior of micromachined freestanding membranes. Nanoindentation was used to verify the Young’s modulus and determine the hardness. As expected, the films exhibit insulating properties with a relative dielectric constant at 3.90 for as-deposited films and 2.69 after annealing at 1100˚C, as determined from C-V measurements. Chemical inertness was tested in aqueous, corrosive solutions such as KOH and HNA. Prototype structures were fabricated using both surface micromachining and bulk micromachining techniques to demonstrate the potential of the a-SiC:H films for MEMS applications.
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Du, J., Singh, N., Summers, J.B. et al. Development of PECVD SiC for MEMS Using 3MS as the Precursor. MRS Online Proceedings Library 911, 528 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-0911-B05-28