Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Engineering - Materials Engineering


Materials Engineering


Richard Savage


Electrostatically actuated silicon membranes were designed, modeled, fabricated, and characterized. The intended application was for use in a microspeaker. Fabrication issues necessitated the use of thick diaphragms with a large gap between the electrodes. The devices did not function as speakers but did show actuation with a high DC voltage. Device dimensions were chosen by examining membrane mechanics, testing the processing steps required for device fabrication, and modeling with COMSOL. Several adhesives were researched to fabricate the device sidewalls, including BCB, PMMA, and TRA-Bond F112. A method for patterning PMMA through photolithography was found using a scanning electron microscope. Masks were designed in AutoCAD to create the electrostatically actuated devices and a microfabrication process was developed to produce diaphragms that could be characterized. Twenty micron thick diaphragms were fabricated by etching an SOI wafer in 25% TMAH and the etch depth was measured with a profilometer. Glass slides were coated with gold and patterned with positive photoresist to create counter-electrodes. The diaphragms were bonded to the glass slides using a forty micron thick layer of patterned SU-8 as sidewalls. Bonding was successful in the initial fabrication testing but not successful for the final devices. The final fabrication run resulted in eight devices that were partially bonded. Three devices were chosen to test the membrane actuation and the data analyzed for statistical significance. A DC voltage was applied to the electrodes with a MEMS driver and the change in force measured with a micro-force displacement system. Data analysis showed device actuation at high voltages (300V) for the medium and large devices.