Conception, fabrication and characterization of a MEMS microphone

Abstract : Electret microphones dedicated to consumer electronics and medical applications (hearing aids) have reached the miniaturization limits. Since the release of the first microphone based on Silicon micromachining, electret microphones are constantly replaced by MEMS microphones. MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) microphones use Silicon that provides exceptional mechanical characteristics along with good electric properties and mature fabrication technology. Regardless of the transduction principle (capacitive, piezoresistive, piezoelectric, optical), all of the MEMS microphones reported in the state of the art literature are based on a membrane deflecting out of the plane of the base wafer. Most of the reported microphones and all of the commercially available MEMS use capacitive transduction. Downscaling of capacitive microphones is problematic, since the sensitivity depends on capacitance value. Moreover capacitive sensors suffer of high sensitivity to parasitic capacitance and nonlinearity. The drawbacks of capacitive detection may be overcome with use of piezoresistive properties of Silicon nanowires. Unlike the classical piezoresistors integrated into silicon membrane, suspended nanowires do not suffer of leakage current. Further improvement of piezoresistive detection is possible since the longitudinal piezoresistive coefficient rises inversely proportional to nanowire section. This thesis presents the considerations of novel MEMS microphone architecture that uses microbeams which deflect in the plane of the base wafer. Signal transduction is achieved by piezoresistive nanogauges integrated in the microsystem and attached to the microbeams. Acoustic pressure fluctuations lead to the deflection of the microbeams which produces a stress concentration in the nanogauges. Accurate simulations of the discussed transducer couple acoustic, mechanical and electric behavior of the system. Due to micrometric dimensions of the MEMS acoustic system, thermal and viscous dissipative effects have to be taken into account. To reliably predict the sensor behavior two acoustic models are prepared: the complete Finite Element Model based on the full set of linearized Navier-Stokes equations and the approximative model based on the Lumped Elements (Equivalent Cirtuit Representation). Both models are complementary in the design process to finally retrieve the frequency response and the noise budget of the sensor. The work is completed by the description of the technological process and the challenges related to the prototype microfabrication. Then the approach to the MEMS microphone characterization in pressure-field and free-field is presented.
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Jaroslaw Czarny. Conception, fabrication and characterization of a MEMS microphone. Acoustics [physics.class-ph]. INSA de Lyon, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015ISAL0003⟩. ⟨tel-01247487⟩

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