Conference paper

Displacement damage effects in silicon MEMS at high proton doses

We report on a study of the sensitivity of silicon MEMS to proton radiation and mitigation strategies. MEMS systems can degrade due to ionizing radiation (electron-hole pair creation) and non-ionizing radiation (displacement damage), such as electrons, trapped and solar protons, or cosmic rays, typically found in a space environment. Over the past few years there has been several reports on the effects of ionizing radiation in silicon MEMS, with failure generally linked to trapped charge in dielectrics. However there is near complete lack of studies on displacement damage effects in silicon-MEMS: how does silicon change mechanically due to proton irradiation? We report on an investigation on the susceptibility of 50 µm thick SOI-based MEMS resonators to displacement damages due to proton beams, with energies from 1 to 60 MeV, and annealing of this damage. We measure ppm changes on the Young’s modulus and Poisson ratio by means of accurately monitoring the resonant frequency of devices in vacuum using a Laser Doppler Vibrometer. We observed for the first time an increase (up to 0.05%) of the Young’s modulus of single-crystal silicon electromagnetically-actuated micromirrors after exposure to low energy protons (1-4 MeV) at high absorbed doses   100 Mrad (Si). This investigation will contribute to a better understanding of the susceptibility of silicon-based MEMS to displacement damages frequently encountered in a space radiation environment, and allow appropriated design margin and shielding to be implemented.

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