Effect of Surfactant and Alcohol Additives on Etching Characteristics in Aqueous Potassium Hydroxide Solutions

Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Grand Ballroom (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
A. V. Narasimha Rao, V. Swarnalatha, and P. Pal (Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad)
Anisotropic wet etching is a low cost technique for silicon bulk micromachining to fabricate MEMS components such as cantilevers, diaphragms, etc. It is inevitable for the fabrication of microstructures with slanted sidewalls and to remove underneath material for the realization of freestanding microstructures. Potassium hydroxide (KOH) is a popular etchant as it provides high anisotropy between {100}/{110} and {111} planes. In order to alter the etching characteristics, the effect of various kinds of additives such as isopropyl alcohol (IPA), surfactants (Triton X-100) in pure KOH is studied [1-3]. In this work, we studied the etching characteristics of ternary solutions composed of KOH + Triton X-100 + IPA. The concentration of KOH is varied from 5-40 wt% in step of 5 wt%, while the concentrations of Triton and IPA are kept fixed at 0.1 vol% and 15 vol%, respectively. In the different compositions of ternary solutions, the etch rate and etched surface morphologies of Si{100}, Si{110} and Si{111} are investigated. In addition to that the undercutting at convex corners, which is very important parameter for designing compensation structure to protect convex corner and to estimate etching to release the structure from the substrate, is measured. In order to explore the thermal oxide as mask and structural material, the etch rate of silicon dioxide is also measured. In the ternary solution comprising low concentration KOH, the etching characteristics are more significantly affected by Triton than IPA. However, in the case of ternary solution containing high concentration KOH, IPA influences etching characteristics more prominently than Triton. The systematic study of etch rate, etched surface roughness, and undercutting at convex corners in ternary solution presented in this work is very useful to select the composition of ternary solution for MEMS applications as per the requirement.


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[2] P. Pal, A. Ashok, S. Haldar, Y. Xing, K. Sato, Micro Nano Lett. 10 224-228 (2015).

[3] K.P. Rola, I. Zubel, J. Microelectromech. Syst. 22 1373-1382 (2013).