Special Section on Reliability, Packaging, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS and MOEMS

Radiation sensitivity of microelectromechanical system devices

[+] Author Affiliations
Herbert R. Shea

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Microsystems for Space Technologies Laboratory, Rue Jaquet Droz 1, CP 526, CH-2002 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

J. Micro/Nanolith. MEMS MOEMS. 8(3), 031303 (July 02, 2009). doi:10.1117/1.3152362
History: Received December 01, 2008; Revised February 10, 2009; Accepted February 16, 2009; Published July 02, 2009
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The sensitivity of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices to radiation is reviewed, with an emphasis on radiation levels representative of space missions rather than of operation in nuclear reactors. As a purely structural material, silicon has shown no mechanical degradation after radiation doses in excess of 100Mrad. MEMS devices, even when excluding control/readout electronics, have, however, failed at doses of only 20krad, though some devices have been shown to operate correctly for doses greater than 10Mrad. Radiation sensitivity depends strongly on the sensing or actuation principle, device design, and materials, and is linked primarily to the impact on device operation of radiation-induced trapped charge in dielectrics. MEMS devices operating on electrostatic principles can be highly sensitive to charge accumulation in dielectric layers, especially for designs with dielectrics located between moving parts. In contrast, thermally and electromagnetically actuated MEMS are much more radiation tolerant. MEMS operating on piezoresitive principles start to slowly degrade at low doses, but do not fail catastrophically until doses of several Mrad. A survey of all published reports of radiation effects on MEMS is presented, as well as a summary of techniques that can improve their radiation tolerance.

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© 2009 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

Citation

Herbert R. Shea
"Radiation sensitivity of microelectromechanical system devices", J. Micro/Nanolith. MEMS MOEMS. 8(3), 031303 (July 02, 2009). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.3152362


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