Fabrication of Microchannel with Thin Cover Layer for an Optical Waveguide MEMS Switch Based on Microfluidics

Takuji IKEMOTO  Yasuo KOKUBUN  

Publication
IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Electronics   Vol.E90-C   No.1   pp.78-86
Publication Date: 2007/01/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1353
DOI: 10.1093/ietele/e90-c.1.78
Print ISSN: 0916-8516
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Microoptomechatronics)
Category: Micro/Nano Photonic Devices
Keyword: 
optical switch,  microelectromechanical system,  microchannel,  Damascene process,  thin cover layer,  

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Summary: 
We propose and demonstrate a new fabrication process of a microchannel using the Damascene process. This process aims to integrate photonic circuits with microchannels fabricated in a glass film. The microchannel is fabricated by the removal of the sacrificial layer after a sacrificial layer is formed by the Damascene process and the cover is formed by sputter deposition. A thin cover layer can be formed by the sacrificial method, because the cover layer is supported by the sacrificial layer during film formation. The cover layer is hermetically sealed, since it is formed by radio frequency (RF) sputtering deposition. The thickness is 1 µm and the width ranges from 3.5 to 8 µm. Using the proposed microchannel fabrication method, we prepared a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) optical switch using microfluidics, and we confirmed its functional operation. This optical switch actuates a minute droplet of liquid injected into the microchannel using Maxwell's stresses. Light propagates straight through the waveguide so that the light passes through the microchannel when the droplet is in the microchannel, but the light rays are completely reflected into a crossed waveguide when the droplet is not in the microchannel. Since this fabrication method uses techniques common to those in the formation of copper wiring in an IC chip, it can be used in the microchannel process.