Electro-Thermal Mechanical Modeling of Microbolometer for Reliability Analysis
Effa, Dawit (David)
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Infrared (IR) imaging is a key technology in a variety of military and civilian applications, especially for night vision and remote sensing. Compared with cryogenically cooled IR sensors, uncooled infrared imaging devices have the advantages of being low cost, light weight, and superior reliability. The electro-thermal analysis of a microbolometer pixel is critical to determine both device performance and reliability. To date, most microbolometer analysis research has focused on performance optimization and computation of thermal conductance directly from the geometry. However, modeling of the thermal distribution across the microbolometer pixel is critical for the comprehensive analysis of system performance and reliability. Therefore, this thesis investigates the electro-thermo-mechanical characteristics of a microbolometer pixel considering the effects of joule heating and incoming IR energy. The contributions of the present research include the electro-thermal models for microbolometer and methods of validating thermal distribution using experimental results. The electro-thermal models explain the effect of microbolometer material properties and geometry on device performance and reliability. The research also contributes methods of estimating the thermal conductivity of microbolometer, which take into account different heat transfer mechanisms, including radiation and convection. Previous approaches for estimating the thermal conductance of uncooled microbolometer consider heat conduction via legs from the geometry of the pixel structure and material properties . This approach assumes linear temperature distribution in the pixel legs structure. It also leaves out the various electro-thermal effects existing for multilayer structures. In the present research, a different approach is used to develop the thermal conductance of microbolometer pixel structure. The temperature distribution in the pixel is computed from an electro-thermal model. Then, the average temperature in the pixel microplate and the total heat energy generated by joule heating is utilized to compute the thermal conductance of the structure. The thesis discusses electro-thermal and thermo-mechanical modeling, simulation and testing of Polysilicon Multi-User MEMS Process (PolyMUMPs®) test devices as the groundwork for the investigation of microbolometer performance and reliability in space applications. An electro-thermal analytical and numerical model was developed to predict the temperature distribution across the microbolometer pixel by solving the second order differential heat equation. To provide a qualitative insight of the effect of different parameters in the thermal distribution, including material properties and device geometry, first an explicit formulation for the solution of the electro-thermal coupling is obtained using the analytical method. In addition, the electro-thermal model, which accounts for the effect of IR energy and radiation heat transfer, spreading resistance and transient conditions, was studied using numerical methods. In addition, an analytical model has been developed to compute the IR absorption coefficient of a Thin Single Stage (TSS) microbolometer pixel. The simulation result of this model was used to compute absorbed IR energy for the numerical model. Subsequently, the temperature distribution calculated from the analytical model is used to obtain the deflections that the structure undergoes, which will be fundamental for the reliability analysis of the device. Finite element analysis (FEA) has been simulated for the selected device using commercial software, ANSYS® multiphysics. Finite element simulation shows that the electro-thermal models predict the temperature distribution across a microbolometer pixel at steady-state conditions within 2.3% difference from the analytical model. The analytical and numerical models are also simulated and results for a temperature distribution within 1.6% difference. In addition, to validate the analytical and numerical electro-thermal and thermo-mechanical models, a PolyMUMPs® test device has been used. The test results showed a close agreement with the FEM simulation deflection of the test device.