3-D Process Modeling – A Novel and Efficient Tool for MEMS Foundry Design Support

Abstract – In this paper we describe a novel tool for modeling the fabrication of MEMS and semiconductor devices, and show some examples of its application in the MEMS foundry business. The tool allows an accurate visualization of the step-by step creation of the final 3-D device geometry by using the 2-D layout and a description of the fabrication process. The novelty of the tool lies in its use of voxels (3-D pixels) rather than conventional 3-D CAD techniques to represent the 3-D geometry. The tool creates highly realistic, 3-D virtual prototypes of micro-fabricated devices.

Examination of these virtual prototypes can reveal design errors as well as the impact of design changes and process variations before each mask tape out and fab run, potentially reducing or eliminating design-fabricate- test cycles. To demonstrate the value of this tool to a foundry, the paper describes how the tool has been applied to a MEMS SOI micromachining process. Two detailed case studies are provided: a 3-D design check that revealed a design flaw before fabrication, and an analysis of a process failure which confirmed the suspected cause of undesired pocket-like cavities on the edges of silicon structures.

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