Pirani Vacuum Gauges Using Silicon-on-Glass and Dissolved-Wafer Processes for the Characterization of MEMS Vacuum Packaging

Topalli E. S. , Topalli K., Alper S. E. , Serin T., Akin T.

IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, vol.9, pp.263-270, 2009 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 9
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/jsen.2008.2012200
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.263-270
  • Keywords: Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), packaging, Pirani gauge, pressure sensor, vacuum, MICRO-ACCELEROMETER, PRESSURE


This paper presents the design and implementation of Pirani vacuum gauges for the characterization of vacuum packaging of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Various Pirani vacuum gauges are fabricated with two different standard in-house fabrication processes, namely the silicon-on-glass (SOG) process and dissolved-wafer process (DWP). The Pirani gauges utilize meander-shaped suspended silicon coils as the heaters and two isolated silicon islands in the close proximity of the heater that function as dual-heat sinks to enhance the sensitivity and dynamic range as compared to a microbridge with a single heat sink. The gauges are designed to occupy an area of 4 mm x 1.5 mm. The DWP Pirani gauge fabricated with a structural thickness of 14 mu m and a gap of 2 mu m shows a measured sensitivity of 4.2 x 10(4) (K/W)/Torr in a dynamic range of 10-2000 mTorr. The SOG Pirani gauge fabricated with a structural thickness of 100 mu m and a gap of 3 mu m shows a lower measured sensitivity of 3.8 x 10(3) (K/W)/Torr in a dynamic range of 50-5000 mTorr; however, the 100 mu m-thick structural layer results in a much more robust process against stress-based deformations in suspended silicon compared to the DWP Pirani gauges. Each gauge is used to monitor the pressure of a different packaging approach. The DWP Pirani gauge is used to detect the pressure of a wafer-level vacuum package, where the pressure inside the cavity is measured to be about 2.4 mTorr. The SOG Pirani gauge is used the monitor the pressure inside a hybrid platform package which is vacuum-sealed using a projection welder, where the pressure is measured to be about 1400 mTorr. These measurements verify that the DWP and SOG Pirani gauges can be used for the characterization of wafer-level or hybrid platform vacuum packages for MEMS devices.