Making MEMS more suited for Space: Assessing the proton-radiation tolerance of structural materials for microsystems in orbit
We report on the susceptibility of structural MEMS materials to proton radiation damage. Radiation tests at spacerelevant doses were conducted on MEMS resonators. The two materials examined were single crystal silicon and SU-8, which are both in widespread use in microsystems. The resonance frequency was monitored for measuring minute changes of the Young’s modulus. No radiation-induced changes of the elasticity were observed in the silicon devices up to fluences of 1013 cm-2, corresponding to a total ionizing dose (TID) of over 5.5 MRad for 10 MeV protons. The SU-8 resonators showed a variation of less than ±5.5% at doses of up to 1.4 Mrad (TID). Chemical and structural analyses of the polymer were performed using infrared absorption spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction methods. We discuss possible mechanisms for the observed changes of the elasticity of SU-8.