Articles | Volume 3, issue 2
Regular research article
19 Dec 2014
Regular research article |  | 19 Dec 2014

Encapsulation of implantable integrated MEMS pressure sensors using polyimide epoxy composite and atomic layer deposition

P. Gembaczka, M. Görtz, Y. Celik, A. Jupe, M. Stühlmeyer, A. Goehlich, H. Vogt, W. Mokwa, and M. Kraft

Abstract. Implantable MEMS sensors are an enabling technology for diagnostic analysis and therapy in medicine. The encapsulation of such miniaturized implants remains a largely unsolved problem. Medically approved encapsulation materials include titanium or ceramics; however, these result in bulky and thick-walled encapsulations which are not suitable for MEMS sensors. In particular, for MEMS pressure sensors the chip surface comprising the pressure membranes must be free of rigid encapsulation material and in direct contact with tissue or body fluids. This work describes a new kind of encapsulation approach for a capacitive pressure sensor module consisting of two integrated circuits. The micromechanical membrane of the pressure sensor may be covered only by very thin layers, to ensure high pressure sensitivity. A suitable passivation method for the high topography of the pressure sensor is atomic layer deposition (ALD) of aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5). It provides a hermetic passivation with a high conformity. Prior to ALD coating, a high-temperature resistant polyimide–epoxy composite was evaluated as a die attach material and sealing compound for bond wires and the chip surface. This can sustain the ALD deposition temperature of 275 °C for several hours without any measurable decomposition. Tests indicated that the ALD can be deposited on top of the polyimide–epoxy composite covering the entire sensor module. The encapsulated pressure sensor module was calibrated and tested in an environmental chamber at accelerated aging conditions. An accelerated life test at 60 °C indicated a maximum drift of 5% full scale after 1482 h. From accelerated life time testing at 120 °C a maximum stable life time of 3.3 years could be extrapolated.