KR101000212B1 - Method of fabricating suspended beam in a ???? process - Google Patents

Method of fabricating suspended beam in a ???? process Download PDF

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KR101000212B1
KR101000212B1 KR20087011016A KR20087011016A KR101000212B1 KR 101000212 B1 KR101000212 B1 KR 101000212B1 KR 20087011016 A KR20087011016 A KR 20087011016A KR 20087011016 A KR20087011016 A KR 20087011016A KR 101000212 B1 KR101000212 B1 KR 101000212B1
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method
ink
sacrificial material
nozzle
material
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KR20087011016A
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KR20080066781A (en
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키아 실버브룩
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실버브룩 리서치 피티와이 리미티드
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Priority to PCT/AU2005/001565 priority Critical patent/WO2007041748A1/en
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/14Structure thereof only for on-demand ink jet heads
    • B41J2/14016Structure of bubble jet print heads
    • B41J2/14032Structure of the pressure chamber
    • B41J2/1404Geometrical characteristics
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/16Production of nozzles
    • B41J2/1601Production of bubble jet print heads
    • B41J2/1603Production of bubble jet print heads of the front shooter type
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/16Production of nozzles
    • B41J2/1621Production of nozzles manufacturing processes
    • B41J2/1626Production of nozzles manufacturing processes etching
    • B41J2/1628Production of nozzles manufacturing processes etching dry etching
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/16Production of nozzles
    • B41J2/1621Production of nozzles manufacturing processes
    • B41J2/1631Production of nozzles manufacturing processes photolithography
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/16Production of nozzles
    • B41J2/1621Production of nozzles manufacturing processes
    • B41J2/1637Production of nozzles manufacturing processes molding
    • B41J2/1639Production of nozzles manufacturing processes molding sacrificial molding
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/16Production of nozzles
    • B41J2/1621Production of nozzles manufacturing processes
    • B41J2/164Production of nozzles manufacturing processes thin film formation
    • B41J2/1642Production of nozzles manufacturing processes thin film formation thin film formation by CVD [chemical vapor deposition]
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/16Production of nozzles
    • B41J2/1621Production of nozzles manufacturing processes
    • B41J2/164Production of nozzles manufacturing processes thin film formation
    • B41J2/1645Production of nozzles manufacturing processes thin film formation thin film formation by spincoating
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B81MICROSTRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGY
    • B81CPROCESSES OR APPARATUS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR THE MANUFACTURE OR TREATMENT OF MICROSTRUCTURAL DEVICES OR SYSTEMS
    • B81C1/00Manufacture or treatment of devices or systems in or on a substrate
    • B81C1/00436Shaping materials, i.e. techniques for structuring the substrate or the layers on the substrate
    • B81C1/00555Achieving a desired geometry, i.e. controlling etch rates, anisotropy or selectivity
    • B81C1/00611Processes for the planarisation of structures
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/14Structure thereof only for on-demand ink jet heads
    • B41J2002/14403Structure thereof only for on-demand ink jet heads including a filter
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/135Nozzles
    • B41J2/14Structure thereof only for on-demand ink jet heads
    • B41J2002/14475Structure thereof only for on-demand ink jet heads characterised by nozzle shapes or number of orifices per chamber
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2202/00Embodiments of or processes related to ink-jet or thermal heads
    • B41J2202/01Embodiments of or processes related to ink-jet heads
    • B41J2202/11Embodiments of or processes related to ink-jet heads characterised by specific geometrical characteristics
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B81MICROSTRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGY
    • B81BMICROSTRUCTURAL DEVICES OR SYSTEMS, e.g. MICROMECHANICAL DEVICES
    • B81B2201/00Specific applications of microelectromechanical systems
    • B81B2201/03Microengines and actuators
    • B81B2201/032Bimorph and unimorph actuators, e.g. piezo and thermo
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B81MICROSTRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGY
    • B81BMICROSTRUCTURAL DEVICES OR SYSTEMS, e.g. MICROMECHANICAL DEVICES
    • B81B2201/00Specific applications of microelectromechanical systems
    • B81B2201/05Microfluidics
    • B81B2201/052Ink-jet print cartridges
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B81MICROSTRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGY
    • B81BMICROSTRUCTURAL DEVICES OR SYSTEMS, e.g. MICROMECHANICAL DEVICES
    • B81B2203/00Basic microelectromechanical structures
    • B81B2203/01Suspended structures, i.e. structures allowing a movement
    • B81B2203/0109Bridges
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B81MICROSTRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGY
    • B81CPROCESSES OR APPARATUS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR THE MANUFACTURE OR TREATMENT OF MICROSTRUCTURAL DEVICES OR SYSTEMS
    • B81C2201/00Manufacture or treatment of microstructural devices or systems
    • B81C2201/01Manufacture or treatment of microstructural devices or systems in or on a substrate
    • B81C2201/0101Shaping material; Structuring the bulk substrate or layers on the substrate; Film patterning
    • B81C2201/0102Surface micromachining
    • B81C2201/0105Sacrificial layer
    • B81C2201/0108Sacrificial polymer, ashing of organics
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B81MICROSTRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGY
    • B81CPROCESSES OR APPARATUS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR THE MANUFACTURE OR TREATMENT OF MICROSTRUCTURAL DEVICES OR SYSTEMS
    • B81C2201/00Manufacture or treatment of microstructural devices or systems
    • B81C2201/01Manufacture or treatment of microstructural devices or systems in or on a substrate
    • B81C2201/0101Shaping material; Structuring the bulk substrate or layers on the substrate; Film patterning
    • B81C2201/0118Processes for the planarization of structures
    • B81C2201/0126Processes for the planarization of structures not provided for in B81C2201/0119 - B81C2201/0125

Abstract

A method of manufacturing a suspended beam in a MEMS process, the method comprising:
(a) etching a pit having a base and sidewalls to the substrate;
(b) depositing a sacrificial material on the surface of the substrate to fill the pit;
(c) removing the sacrificial material from a perimeter region within the pit and a substrate surface surrounding the pit;
(d) reflowing residual sacrificial material in the pit to bring the residual sacrificial material into contact with the sidewalls;
(e) depositing a beam material on the substrate surface and backwashed sacrificial material; And
(f) removing the counter flow sacrificial material to form a suspended beam; It includes.

Description

METHODS OF FABRICATING SUSPENDED BEAM IN A MEMS PROCESS}

TECHNICAL FIELD The present invention relates to the field of inkjet printers and relates to inkjet printing systems using printheads made with micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology.

Cross Reference of Related Patent Application

Various methods, systems, and apparatus relating to the present invention are disclosed in the following US patents / patent applications filed by the applicant or the assignee of the present invention.

Figure 112008032635528-pct00001

Figure 112008032635528-pct00002

Figure 112008032635528-pct00003

Figure 112008032635528-pct00004

These patent applications and the disclosures of the patents are incorporated herein by reference.

The present invention inevitably involves the ejection of ink drops by forming gas bubbles or vapor bubbles in a bubble forming liquid. This principle is outlined in US 3,747,120 (Stemme). Each pixel in the printed image is derived from ink droplets ejected from one or more ink nozzles. Recently, inkjet printing has increased in popularity due to its low cost and various uses. Various various features and techniques for inkjet printing are described in detail in the above referenced documents.

Submerging the heater element completely in the ink dramatically improves the printhead efficiency. As less heat is dissipated towards the underlying wafer substrate, a greater amount of input energy is used to create bubbles that eject ink.

A convenient way to suspend the heater element is to deposit the heater element on a sacrificial photoresist which will later be removed by release etch. Sacrificial material (SAC) is deposited into pit or trench etched into the substrate adjacent the electrode. However, it is difficult to accurately match the mask to the pit side. In general, when the masked photoresist is exposed, a gap is formed between the pit surface and the sacrificial material. When a heater material layer is deposited, this heater material layer fills these gaps to form a stringer, as is known. The stringer remains in the pit after the metal etch forming the heater element and the release etch to finally remove the sacrificial material. This stringer does not help create bubbles because it can short circuit the heater.

By making a mask larger than the trench, no gap is formed since the sacrificial material will be deposited on the sidewalls. Unfortunately, this forms a raised lip around the top of the trench. When the heater material layer is deposited, the heater material layer on the vertical or inclined surfaces of the lip is thinner. After metal and release etch, these thin lip formations remain and this locally thin portion increases the electrical resistance, causing hotspots. Hot spots affect the operation of the heater and generally reduce the heater life.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a method of manufacturing a suspended beam in a MEMS process, the method comprising:

(a) etching a pit having a base and sidewalls to the substrate;

(b) depositing a sacrificial material on the surface of the substrate to fill the pit;

(c) removing the sacrificial material from a perimeter region within the pit and a substrate surface surrounding the pit;

(d) backflowing the remaining sacrificial material in the pit to allow the remaining sacrificial material to contact the sidewalls;

(e) depositing a beam material on the substrate surface and backwashed sacrificial material; And

(f) removing the counter flow sacrificial material to form a suspended beam; It includes.

Preferably, the suspended beam is substantially planar. In a more preferred form, all parts of the suspended beam have substantially the same thickness.

Optionally, the suspended beam is an actuator for an inkjet nozzle.

In a first aspect, the present invention provides a method of manufacturing a suspended beam in a MEMS process, the method comprising:

(a) etching a pit having a base and sidewalls to the substrate;

(b) depositing a sacrificial material on the surface of the substrate to fill the pit;

(c) removing the sacrificial material from the periphery within the pit and the substrate surface surrounding the pit;

(d) backflowing the remaining sacrificial material in the pit so that the remaining sacrificial material contacts the sidewalls;

(e) depositing a beam material on the sacrificial material backflowed with the substrate surface; And

(f) removing the counter flow sacrificial material to form a suspended beam; It includes.

Optionally, the suspended beam is substantially planar.

Optionally, all parts of the suspended beam have substantially the same thickness.

Optionally, the suspended beam is an actuator for an inkjet nozzle.

Optionally, the actuator is a heater element.

Optionally, the heater member is suspended between the pair of electrodes.

Optionally, the substrate is a silicon wafer.

Optionally, the silicon wafer comprises at least one surface oxide layer.

Optionally, the sacrificial material is a photoresist.

Optionally, the photoresist is removed by development following exposure through a mask.

Optionally, the circumferential region includes an area adjacent to at least two of the sidewalls.

Optionally, the circumferential region includes an area adjacent to all of the sidewalls.

Optionally, removal of the sacrificial material from the peripheral region forms a space of less than one micron between the residual sacrificial material and at least two of the sidewalls.

Optionally, removal of the sacrificial material from the peripheral region forms a space of less than 1 micron between the remaining sacrificial material and all of the sidewalls.

Optionally, the reflowing is performed by heating the sacrificial material.

Optionally, the sacrificial material is treated prior to deposition of the beam material to prevent excessive backflow.

Optionally, the treatment comprises UV curing.

Optionally, the beam material is etched into a predetermined configuration after deposition.

Optionally, after the deposition of the beam material and prior to the removal of the countercurrent sacrificial material, a further MEMS process step is performed.

Optionally, subsequent steps of the MEMS process include forming an inkjet nozzle comprising the suspended beam.

In a second aspect, the present invention provides a method of manufacturing a plurality of inkjet nozzles on a substrate, each nozzle comprising a loop spaced from the substrate and sidewalls extending from the loop toward the substrate. And a nozzle chamber provided, wherein one of the side walls has a chamber entrance for receiving ink from an ink conduit extending along a row of nozzles. And the ink conduit receives ink from a plurality of ink inlets formed in the substrate, wherein the method comprises:

(a) providing a substrate having a plurality of trenches corresponding to the ink inlets;

(b) depositing a sacrificial material on the substrate to fill the trench and then form a scaffold on the substrate;

(c) forming openings in the sacrificial material, the openings being arranged to form sidewalls of the chamber and the ink conduit when filled with a roof material;

(d) depositing a loop material over the sacrificial material to simultaneously form the nozzle chamber and the ink conduit;

(e) etching nozzle apertures through the loop material, each nozzle chamber having at least one nozzle aperture; And

(f) removing the sacrificial material; It includes.

Optionally, each nozzle chamber includes an actuator for ejecting ink through said nozzle hole.

Optionally, the actuator is formed prior to fabrication of the nozzle chamber.

Optionally, the substrate is a silicon wafer.

Optionally, the silicon wafer comprises at least one surface oxide layer.

Optionally, the sacrificial material is a photoresist.

Optionally, the opening is formed by exposing the photoresist through a mask following development.

Optionally, the photoresist is UV cured prior to deposition of the loop material, thereby preventing backflow of the photoresist during deposition.

Optionally, the photoresist is removed by plasma ashing.

In another aspect, a method is provided further comprising etching ink supply channels from an opposite backside of the substrate, the ink supply channels being in fluid communication with the ink inlet. )do.

Optionally each ink inlet has at least one liquid priming feature extending from each rim of the ink inlet, the method corresponding to the at least one liquid injecting structure. And forming at least one opening in the photoresist.

Optionally, said at least one liquid injection structure comprises a column of loop material extending from said rim.

Optionally, each ink inlet has a plurality of liquid inlet structures disposed around each rim of the ink inlet.

Optionally, the plurality of liquid injection structures together form a columnar cage extending from the rim.

Optionally, said chamber inlet comprises at least one filter structure, and said method further comprises forming at least one opening in said photoresist corresponding to said at least one liquid injection structure.

Optionally, said at least one filter structure comprises a pillar of loop material extending from said substrate towards said loop.

Optionally, each chamber inlet comprises a plurality of filter structures disposed across said inlet.

Optionally, each chamber inlet includes a plurality of rows of filter structures disposed across the inlet.

Optionally, the filter structure stream is staggered.

In a third aspect, a method of manufacturing a plurality of inkjet nozzles on a substrate is provided, each nozzle comprising a nozzle chamber having a loop spaced from the substrate and sidewalls extending from the loop toward the substrate, The chamber has an inlet for receiving ink from at least one ink inlet formed in the substrate, wherein the at least one ink inlet has at least one liquid injecting structure extending from each rim of the ink inlet. Way,

(a) providing a substrate having a plurality of trenches corresponding to the ink inlets;

(b) depositing a sacrificial material on the substrate to fill the trench and then form a skeleton on the substrate;

(c) forming openings in the sacrificial material, the openings being arranged to form the at least one liquid injection structure with the sidewalls of the chamber when filled with a loop material;

(d) depositing a loop material over said sacrificial material to simultaneously form said nozzle chamber and said at least one liquid injection structure;

(e) etching nozzle holes through the loop material, each nozzle chamber having at least one nozzle hole; And

(f) removing the sacrificial material; It includes.

Optionally, said at least one liquid injection structure comprises a pillar of loop material extending from said rim.

Optionally, each ink inlet has a plurality of liquid injection structures disposed around each rim of the ink inlet.

Optionally, the plurality of liquid injection structures together form a columnar skeleton extending from the rim.

Optionally, each nozzle chamber includes an actuator for ejecting ink through said nozzle hole.

Optionally, the actuator is formed prior to fabrication of the nozzle chamber.

Optionally, the substrate is a silicon wafer.

Optionally, the silicon wafer comprises at least one surface oxide layer.

Optionally, the sacrificial material is a photoresist.

Optionally, the opening is formed by exposing the photoresist through a mask following development.

Optionally, the photoresist is UV cured prior to deposition of the loop material, thereby preventing backflow of the photoresist during deposition.

Optionally, the photoresist is removed by plasma ashing.

In another aspect, a method is provided further comprising etching ink supply channels from an opposite backside of the substrate, the ink supply channels being in fluid communication with the ink inlet. )do.

Optionally, the chamber inlet is formed in the sidewall of one of the sidewalls of the nozzle chamber.

Optionally, the chamber inlet receives ink from an ink conduit extending along the nozzle row, whereby step (c) further comprises forming extra openings in the sacrificial material, wherein the extra openings. Is arranged to form the ink conduit when filled with a roof material.

Optionally, the ink conduit receives ink from the at least one ink inlet.

In a fourth aspect, the present invention provides a method of manufacturing a plurality of inkjet nozzles on a substrate, each nozzle comprising a nozzle chamber having a loop spaced from the substrate and sidewalls extending from the loop toward the substrate. And one sidewall of the sidewalls has a chamber inlet for receiving ink from at least one ink inlet formed in the substrate, the chamber inlet comprising at least one filter structure, the method comprising:

(a) providing a substrate having a plurality of trenches corresponding to the ink inlets;

(b) depositing a sacrificial material on the substrate to fill the trench and then form a skeleton on the substrate;

(c) forming openings in the sacrificial material, the openings being arranged to form the at least one filter structure with the sidewalls of the chamber when filled with a loop material;

(d) depositing a loop material over said sacrificial material to simultaneously form said nozzle chambers and said at least one filter structure;

(e) etching nozzle holes through the loop material, each nozzle chamber having at least one nozzle hole; And

(f) removing the sacrificial material; It includes.

Optionally, the filter structure comprises a pillar of loop material extending from the substrate toward the loop.

Optionally, each chamber inlet comprises a plurality of filter structures disposed across said inlet.

Optionally, each chamber inlet includes a plurality of rows of filter structures disposed across the inlet.

Optionally, the filter structure stream is staggered.

Optionally, each nozzle chamber includes an actuator for ejecting ink through said nozzle hole.

Optionally, the actuator is formed prior to fabrication of the nozzle chamber.

Optionally, the substrate is a silicon wafer.

Optionally, the silicon wafer comprises at least one surface oxide layer.

Optionally, the sacrificial material is a photoresist.

Optionally, the opening is formed by exposing the photoresist through a mask following development.

Optionally, the photoresist is UV cured prior to deposition of the loop material, thereby preventing backflow of the photoresist during deposition.

Optionally, the photoresist is removed by plasma ashing.

In another aspect, there is provided a method further comprising etching ink supply channels from an opposite backside of the substrate, the ink supply channel being in fluid communication with the ink inlet.

Optionally, the chamber inlet receives ink from an ink conduit extending along the nozzle row, whereby step (c) further comprises forming extra openings in the sacrificial material, the extra openings being a loop material. It is arranged to form the ink conduit when filled with.

Optionally, the ink conduit receives ink from the at least one ink inlet.

In a fifth aspect, the present invention provides a method of forming a low-stiction nozzle plate for an inkjet printhead, the nozzle plate comprising a plurality of nozzle holes formed in the nozzle plate. Each nozzle hole is provided with a nozzle rim, the method comprising:

(a) providing a partially-fabricated printhead comprising a plurality of inkjet nozzle assemblies sealed with a loopable material;

(b) partially etching in the loop material to simultaneously form the nozzle rims and a plurality of stiction-reducing formations; And

(c) etching through the loop material to form the nozzle holes, thereby forming the nozzle plate; It includes.

Optionally, each nozzle rim comprises at least one projection around the perimeter of each nozzle hole.

Optionally, each nozzle rim comprises a plurality of coaxial projections around the perimeter of each nozzle hole.

Optionally, at least one rim protrusion protrudes at least 1 micron from the nozzle plate.

Optionally, the angular static friction reducing structure includes a columnar projection on the nozzle plate.

Optionally, the angular columnar protrusion protrudes at least 1 micron from the nozzle plate.

Optionally, each columnar projection is spaced less than 2 microns from an adjacent columnar projection.

Optionally, each static friction reducing structure includes an elongate wall projection on the nozzle plate.

Optionally, the angular protruding wall protrudes at least 1 micron from the nozzle plate.

Optionally, the protruding wall is disposed on the nozzle plate to minimize color-mixing of inks.

Optionally, the protruding wall extends along the nozzle plate parallel to the nozzle row, with each nozzle in the same row spraying the same color ink.

Optionally, the positions of the nozzle rims and the static friction reducing structures are formed by photolithographic masking.

Optionally, at least half of the surface area of the nozzle plate is covered with static friction reducing structures.

Optionally, the inkjet nozzle assembly is formed on a silicon substrate and the nozzle plate is spaced apart from the substrate.

Optionally, the nozzle plate is comprised of silicon nitride, silicon oxide, silicon oxynitride or aluminum nitride.

Optionally, the nozzle assemblies are sealed to the loop material by CVD or PECVD deposition.

Optionally, the loop material is deposited on a sacrificial scaffold.

Optionally, each inkjet nozzle assembly has at least one nozzle hole coupled to the inkjet nozzle assembly for ink spraying.

Optionally, the nozzle plate is later treated with a hydrophobizing material.

The printhead according to the invention comprises a plurality of nozzles and also comprises a chamber and one or more heater elements corresponding to each nozzle. The smallest repeating units of the printhead will have an ink supply inlet for supplying ink to one or more chambers. The entire nozzle array is formed by repeating these individual units. Such individual units are referred to herein as " unit cells. &Quot;

In addition, the term "ink" is used to mean all sprayable liquids and is therefore not limited to conventional inks including colored dyes. Examples of non-colored inks are fixatives, infrared absorber inks, functionalized chemicals, adhesives, biological fluids, medicines, water And other solvents and the like. Inks or jettable liquids also do not have to be strictly liquids, and may include suspensions of solid particles.

Preferred configurations of the present invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings. among them,

1 shows a partially manufactured unit cell of a MES nozzle row formed in the printhead of the present invention, and shows a unit cell cut along the line A-A of FIG.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the partially manufactured unit cell shown in FIG. 1.

3 shows a mark related to the etching of the heater element trench.

4 is a cross-sectional view of the unit cell after etching of the trench.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a mask associated with the deposition of the sacrificial photoresist shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 7 shows the unit cell after the sacrificial photoresist trench deposition, partially expanding the gap between the edge of the sacrificial material and the trench sidewalls.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 7.

9 shows the unit cell after backflowing the sacrificial photoresist to fill the gap along the sidewalls of the trench.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 9.

11 is a cross-sectional view showing deposition of a heater material layer.

12 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a mask related to metal etching of the heater material shown in FIG.

14 is a cross-sectional view showing metal etching for forming a heater actuator.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a mask associated with the etching shown in FIG. 17.

FIG. 17 shows the deposition of the ink inlet to the passivation layer on top of the CMOS drive layer followed by the deposition of the photoresist layer.

18 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 17.

FIG. 19 shows an oxide etch through the passivation layer and the CMOS layer to the underlying silicon wafer.

20 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 19.

Figure 21 shows a deep anisotropic etch of the ink inlet into the silicon wafer.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 21.

FIG. 23 is a mask related to the photoresist etching shown in FIG. 24.

24 illustrates photoresist etching to form openings for the chamber loop and sidewalls.

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 24.

Figure 26 shows the deposition of the sidewalls and the risk material.

FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 26.

FIG. 28 is a mask related to the nozzle rim etching shown in FIG. 29. FIG.

FIG. 29 illustrates etching of the loop layer to form a nozzle aperture rim.

30 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 29.

FIG. 31 is a mask related to the nozzle hole etching shown in FIG. 32.

32 illustrates etching of the loop material to form elliptical nozzle holes.

33 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 32.

FIG. 34 illustrates an oxygen plasma release etch of the first sacrificial layer and the second sacrificial layer.

35 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 34.

36 shows the unit cell after shaving release etching on the opposite side of the wafer.

FIG. 37 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 36.

FIG. 38 is a mask related to reverse etch shown in FIG. 39.

39 shows the backside etching of the ink supply channel into the wafer.

40 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 39.

41 illustrates thinning of the wafer by backside etching.

FIG. 42 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 41.

Fig. 43 is a partial perspective view of a nozzle row formed in the printhead of the present invention.

44 shows a plan view of a unit cell.

45 is a perspective view of the unit cell shown in FIG. 44.

46 is a schematic plan view of two unit cells with the roof layer removed, and the structure of some roof layers is shown only as an outline.

FIG. 47 is a schematic plan view of two unit cells with the roof layer removed, with the nozzle openings shown in outline only.

48 is a schematic partial plan view of a unit cell having ink inflow holes in the side wall of the chamber.

Fig. 49 is a schematic plan view of the unit cell from which the roof layer is removed, and the nozzle opening is shown only in outline.

50 is a partial plan view of a nozzle plate covered with a static friction reducing structure and paper dust particles.

Fig. 51 is a partial plan view of a nozzle plate having residual ink gutters.

52 is a partial cross sectional view showing deposition of a SAC1 photoresist in accordance with the prior art used to prevent stringers.

FIG. 53 is a partial cross-sectional view illustrating the deposition of a heater material layer on the SAC1 photoresist skeleton deposited in FIG. 52.

Fig. 54 is a schematic partial plan view of a unit cell provided with a plurality of nozzles and actuators in each chamber.

Like reference numerals in the following description refer to like parts. For convenience, the components indicated by each reference number are listed below.

MNN MPN Series Parts List

1.Nozzle Unit Cell

2. Silicon Wafer

3.Topmost Aluminum Metal Layer in the CMOS metal layers

4. Passivation Layer

5. CVD Oxide Layer

6. Ink Inlet Opening in Topmost Aluminum Metal Layer (3)

7. Pit opening of top aluminum metal layer (3)

8. Pit

9. Electrodes

10. SAC1 Photoresist Layer

11. Heater Material (TiAlN)

12. Thermal Actuator

13. Photoresist layer

14. Ink inlet opening etched through photoresist layer

15. Ink Inlet Passage

16. SAC2 photoresist layer

17. Chamber Side Wall Openings

18. Front Channel Priming Feature

19. Barrier Formation at Ink Inlet

20. Chamber Roof Layer

21.loop

22. Sidewalls

23. Ink Conduit

24. Nozzle Chambers

25. Elliptical Nozzle Rim

25 (a). Inner Lip

25 (b). Outer Lip

26. Nozzle Aperture

27. Ink Supply Channel

28. Contacts

29. Heater Element

30. Bubble cage

32. Bubble retention structure

34. Ink permeable structure

36. Bleed hole

38. Ink Chamber

40. Dual row filter

42. Paper dust

44. Ink gutters

46.gap between SAC1 and trench side wall

48. Trench Sidewalls

50. Raised lip of SAC1 around edge of trench

52. Thinner inclined section of heater material

54. Cold spot between series connected heater elements

56. Nozzle Plate

58. Columnar projections

60. Sidewall ink opening

62. Ink refill opening

MEMS Manufacturing Process

The MEMS fabrication process forms nozzle structures on the silicon wafer after completion of the CMOS processing. 2 is a partial cross-sectional perspective view of the nozzle unit cell 100 after completion of CMOS processing and before MEMS processing.

During the CMOS processing of the wafer, four metal layers are deposited on the silicon wafer 2, with metal layers interspersed between interlayer dielectric (ILD) layers. Four metal layers are called M1 layer, M2 layer, M3 layer and M4 layer and are sequentially formed on the wafer during CMOS processing. These CMOS layers provide both drive circuitry and logic for manipulating the printhead.

In the completed printhead, each heater member actuator is connected to the CMOS through a pair of electrodes formed in the outermost M4 layer. Therefore, the M4 CMOS layer forms the basis for the MES processing of the wafer to be performed next. The M4 layer also forms a bonding pad along the longitudinal edge of each printhead integrated circuit. These bonding pads, not shown, allow the CMOS to be coupled to the microprocessor via wire bonds extending from the bonding pads.

1 and 2 show an aluminum M4 layer 3 with a passivation layer 4 deposited thereon (these figures show only the MES structure of the M4 layer; the main CMOS structure of the M4 layer is the nozzle unit cell). Located outside). The M4 layer 3 has a thickness of 1 micron and is deposited on the 2 micron CVD oxide layer 5. As shown in Figs. 1 and 2, the M4 layer 3 has an ink inlet opening 6 and a pit opening 7. These openings define the position of the ink inlet and the position of the pits subsequently formed in the MEM process.

Before the MESS process of the unit cell 1 starts, a bonding pad is formed through the passivation layer 4 by etching along the longitudinal edge of each printhead integrated circuit. This etching exposes the M4 layer 3 at the bonding pad position. During this step the nozzle unit cell 1 is completely masked with photoresist and is not affected by etching.

3 to 5, the pit 8 is etched through the passivation layer 4 and the CVD oxide layer 5 in the first step of the MESS process. This etching is formed using a photoresist layer (not shown) exposed by the dark tone pit mask shown in FIG. When measured from the top of the M4 layer 3, the pit 8 is 2 microns deep. At the same time as the etch 8 is etched, the electrodes 9 are formed on both sides of the pit by partially exposing the M4 layer 3 through the passivation layer 4. In the finished nozzle, the heater element is suspended across the pit 8 between these electrodes 9.

In the next step (Figs. 6-8), the pit 8 is filled with a first sacrificial layer ("SAC1") made of the photoresist 10. A 2 micron thick high viscosity photoresist layer is first spin formed on the wafer and then exposed using the dark tone mask shown in FIG. SAC1 photoresist 10 forms a framework for subsequent deposition of heater material across electrodes 9 on both sides of the pit 8. Therefore, it is important that the SAC1 photoresist 10 have a flat top surface that is the same height as the upper surface of the electrode 9. At the same time, the SAC1 photoresist must fill the pit 8 completely to avoid a 'stringer' made of conductive heater material that extends across the pit and shorts the electrode 9. .

Generally, when filling a trench with photoresist, it is necessary to expose the photoresist out of the circumference of the trench to ensure that the photoresist contacts and fills the trench walls to avoid 'stringers' in subsequent deposition steps. Do. However, this technique results in a protruding (pointed) rim of photoresist around the perimeter of the trench. Protruding rims are undesirable because in subsequent deposition steps, material is unevenly deposited on the protruding rims. In other words, the vertical or inclined plane of this rim will receive less deposits than the horizontal plane of the photoresist filling the trench. The result is 'resistance hotspots' in thinly deposited areas.

As shown in FIG. 7, the process intentionally exposes the SAC1 photoresist 10 to within the circumferential wall of the pit 8, for example within a range of 0.5 microns, using the mask shown in FIG. 6. Let's do it. This ensures a flat top surface of the SAC1 photoresist 10 and also avoids any spiked regions of photoresist around the perimeter rim of the pit 8.

After exposure of the SAC1 photoresist 10, the photoresist is countercurrent by heating. Backflowing the photoresist causes the photoresist to flow towards the walls of the pit 8 so that the pit can be filled accurately. 9 and 10 show the SAC1 photoresist 10 after backflow. The photoresist has a flat top surface and therefore leads to the same height as the top surface of the M4 layer 3 forming the electrode 9. After the backflow, the SAC1 photoresist 10 is UV cured and / or hardbaked to avoid any backflow during subsequent deposition of the heater material.

11 and 12 show the unit cell after the heater material 11 is deposited to a thickness of 0.5 microns on the SAC1 photoresist 10. Due to the reflow process described above, the heater material 11 is deposited in a uniform and flat layer above the electrode 9 and the SAC1 photoresist 10. This heater material may be composed of any suitable conductive material such as TiAl, TiN, TiAlN, TiAlSiN and the like. A typical heater material deposition process may include continuous deposition of a 100 ns TiAl seed layer, a 2500 ns TiAlN layer, again a 100 ns TiAl seed layer and finally 2500 ns TiAlN layer.

With reference to FIGS. 13-15, in the next step, a layer of heater material 11 is etched to form a thermal actuator 12. Each actuator 12 has contacts 28 which establish electrical connections with respective electrodes 9 formed on both sides of the SAC1 photoresist 10. The heater member 29 spans between the corresponding contact portions 28.

This etching is formed by exposing a photoresist layer (not shown) using the dark tone mask shown in FIG. As shown in FIG. 15, the heater member 12 is a linear beam spanning between the pair of electrodes 9. On the other hand, however, the heater member 12 may employ other configurations described in the applicant's U.S. Patent No. 6,755,509, so that the contents of this U.S. patent are incorporated herein by reference. For example, the configuration of the heater member 29 having a central void may be advantageous in minimizing the bad effects of cavitation applied to the heater material when bubbles are collapsed during ink spraying. Other forms of cavitation protection can be employed, such as 'bubble venting' and the use of self passivating materials. These cavitation management techniques are described in detail in US patent application (document number MTC001US).

In the next step, the ink inlet for the nozzle is etched through the passivation layer 4, the oxide layer 5 and the silicon wafer 2. During CMOS processing, each metal layer has ink inlet openings (eg, see opening 6 of M4 layer 3 in FIG. 1) etched through each metal layer in preparation for such ink inlet etching. do. Together with the interspersed ILD layers, these metal layers form a seal ring for the ink inlet that prevents ink from seeping into the CMOS layer.

16 to 18, a relatively thick layer of photoresist 13 is spin formed on the wafer and then exposed using the dark tone mask shown in FIG. The thickness of the photoresist 13 required depends on the choice of deep reactive ion etch (DRIE) used to etch the ink inlet. As the ink inlet openings 14 are formed in the photoresist 13, the wafer is ready for subsequent etching steps.

In the first etching step (Figs. 19 and 20), an insulating layer (passivation layer 4 and oxide layer 5) is etched through to the lower silicon wafer. All standard oxide etch (eg O 2 / C 4 F 8 ) can be used.

In the second etching step (FIGS. 21 and 22), using the same photoresist mask 13, the ink inlet 15 is etched through the silicon wafer 2 to a depth of 25 microns. All standard anisotropic DRIEs such as Bosch etch (US Pat. Nos. 6,501,893 and 6,284,148) (Bosch etch) can be used for this etch. After etching the ink inlet 15, the photoresist layer 13 is removed by plasma ashing.

In the next step, the ink inlet 15 is blocked by photoresist, and then a second sacrificial layer ("SAC2") made of the photoresist 16 is deposited on top of the SAC1 photoresist 10 and the passivation layer 4. . SAC2 photoresist 16 will serve as a framework for subsequent deposition of the loop material, forming loops and sidewalls for each nozzle chamber. 23 to 25, a high viscosity photoresist layer 1-6 microns thick is spin formed on the wafer and then exposed using the dark tone mask shown in FIG.

As shown in Figs. 23 and 25, the mask exposes sidewall openings 17 to the SAC2 photoresist 16 corresponding to the positions of the sidewalls for the ink conduit and the chamber sidewalls. Further, the opening 18 and the opening 19 are exposed adjacent to the plugged inlet 15 and the nozzle chamber inlet, respectively. These openings 18 and 19 will be filled with loop material in subsequent loop deposition steps to provide the unique advantages of the present nozzle design. In particular, the opening 18 filled with loop material serves as a liquid injection structure, which helps to draw ink from the inlet 15 into each nozzle chamber. This is described in detail below. The opening 19 filled with the roof material serves as a filter structure and a fluidic cross talk barrier. These structures prevent air bubbles from entering the nozzle chamber and also diffuse pressure pulses generated by the thermal actuator 12.

With reference to FIGS. 26 and 27, the next step is to deposit 3 micron thick loop material 20 on SAC2 photoresist 16 by PECVD. The roof material 20 fills the openings 17, 18, 19 with SAC2 photoresist 16 to form a nozzle chamber 24 having a loop 21 and sidewalls 22. An ink conduit 23 for supplying ink into the angular nozzle chamber is also formed during deposition of the loop material 20. In addition, all the liquid injection structures and the filter structures (not shown in Figs. 26 and 27) are formed at the same time. Each loop 21 corresponding to each nozzle chamber 25 spans across adjacent nozzle chambers in a row to form a continuous nozzle plate. Loop material 20 may be comprised of any suitable material, such as silicon nitride, silicon oxide, silicon oxynitride, aluminum nitride, and the like.

28 to 30, in the next step, the oval nozzle rim 25 is formed in the loop 21 by removing the loop material 20 by 2 micron thickness. This etching is formed using a photoresist layer (not shown) exposed by the dark tone rim mask shown in FIG. Elliptic rims 25 include two coaxial rim lips 25a and 25b, located above their respective thermal actuators 12.

31 to 33, in the next step, an elliptical nozzle hole 26 is formed in the loop 21 by etching through the remaining loop material 20, which is surrounded by the rim 25. This etching is formed by using a photoresist layer (not shown) exposed by the dark toned loop mask shown in FIG. The elliptical nozzle hole 26 is located above the thermal actuator 12, as shown in FIG.

Once all MEMS nozzle features are completely formed, the SAC1 photoresist layer 10 and SAC2 photoresist layer 16 are removed by O 2 plasma ashing (FIGS. 34 to 35) in the next step. After ashing, the thermal actuator 12 is suspended in a single plane above the pit 8. Coplanar deposition of contact 28 and heater element 29 provides an effective electrical connection with electrode 9.

36 and 37 show the total thickness (150 microns) of the silicon wafer 2 after ashing the SAC1 photoresist layer 10 and the SAC2 photoresist layer 16.

38 to 40, once the front MEMS process of the wafer is completed, the ink supply channels 27 are etched from the back side of the wafer to meet the ink inlet 15 using a standard anisotropic DRIE. This backside etching is formed using a photoresist layer (not shown) exposed by the dark tone mask shown in FIG. The ink supply channel 27 forms a fluidic connection between the back side of the wafer and the ink inlet 15.

Finally, referring to Figures 41 and 42, the wafer thickness is thinned to 135 microns by backside etching. 43 shows three adjacent nozzle rows as a cutaway portion of a completed printhead integrated circuit. Each nozzle row extends along the length of the nozzle row and has respective ink supply channels 27 for supplying ink to the plurality of ink inlets 15 in each row. When each nozzle chamber receives ink from a common ink conduit assigned to that row, the ink inlet supplies ink sequentially to the ink conduits 23 of each row.

Features and Benefits of Individual Components

The following subheadings describe the characteristic components of the present invention and the advantages of these components. Unless certain drawings are specifically excluded in the context, and as far as the drawings are specifically referred to, these components will be considered in connection with all the drawings attached to the present invention.

Low Loss Electrodes

41 and 42, a heater member 29 is suspended in the chamber. This ensures that the heater member is submerged in the ink when the chamber is sufficiently filled. Fully submerging the heater element in the ink dramatically improves printhead efficiency. As less heat is dissipated in the lower wafer substrate, more heat of the input energy is used to create bubbles that spray ink.

This contact can be used to support the member in a raised position of the heater member to suspend the heater member. In essence, the contacts at both ends of the heater element may have a vertical section or an inclined section for connecting the angular electrode formed in the CMOS drive to the member in the raised position. However, the heater material deposited on the vertical plane or the inclined plane is thinner than the heater material deposited on the horizontal plane. In order to prevent undesirable resistive losses in the thinner section, the contact portion of the thermal actuator needs to be relatively large. Larger contacts occupy a significant area of the wafer surface, limiting nozzle packing density.

In order to lock the heater, in the present invention, the pit or trench 8 is etched between the electrodes 9 so as to lower the height of the chamber bottom. As described above, a sacrificial photoresist layer (SAC) 10 (see FIG. 9) is deposited in this trench to provide a framework for the heater member. However, depositing the SAC 10 in the trench 8 and simply covering the trench with a layer of heater material between the SAC 10 and the sidewalls 48 of the trench 8 (as described above with respect to FIG. 7). May cause stringers to be formed in the gaps 46. This gap is formed because it is difficult to accurately fit the mask to the trench 8 surface. In general, when the masked photoresist is exposed, gaps 46 are formed between the sides of the pit and the SAC. Once the heater material layer is deposited, the heater material layer fills these gaps to form a 'stringer' (as known). Stringers remain in the trench 8 after the metal etch (which forms the heater member) and the release etch (to finally remove the SAC). These stringers may short circuit the heater such that the heater does not bubble up.

52 and 53, a 'traditional' technique for preventing stringers is described. By fabricating a UV mask that exposes the SAC slightly larger than the trench 8, the SAC will be deposited over the sidewalls 48 so that no gaps are formed. Unfortunately, this results in a lip 50 projecting around the top surface of the trench. When the heater material layer 11 is deposited (see FIG. 53), this heater material layer is thinner on the vertical or inclined surface of the lip 50. After metal etching and release etching, these thin lip formations 52 remain, causing locally thinned portions to increase resistance, causing hotspots. This hot spot affects the operation of the heater and generally reduces the heater life.

As noted above, the Applicant has found that backflowing the SAC 10 so that the backbone between the electrodes 9 is completely flat fills the gap 46. This causes the entire thermal actuator 12 to be flat. The planar thermal actuator with contacts deposited directly on the CMOS electrode 9 and the suspended heater member 29 prevents hot spots caused by vertical or inclined surfaces, thus reducing the contact portion without increasing resistance loss. It can be a structure. Low resistance loss maintains efficient operation of the suspended heater element and the small contact size is convenient for densely packing nozzles in the printhead.

Multiple nozzles for each chamber

Referring to Fig. 49, the unit cell shown has a two-divided ink chamber 38, and each chamber has a heater member 29 extending between each pair of contact portions 28. Figs. Although the ink penetrating structure 34 is positioned at the ink refill opening to allow ink to enter the chamber, the structure 34 has sufficient hydraulic resistance to reduce all backflow or fluid crosstalk to an acceptable level during operation. To provide.

Ink is supplied from the back side of the wafer through the ink inlet 15. The liquid injection structure 18 extends into the ink inlet opening so that the ink meniscus is not fixed to the peripheral edge of the opening so that the ink flow is not interrupted. Ink from this inlet 15 fills a lateral ink conduit 23 which supplies ink to both chambers 38 of the unit cell.

Instead of a single nozzle per chamber, each chamber 38 has two nozzles 25. When this heater member 29 is driven (if bubbles are formed), two ink droplets are ejected from each nozzle 25 one by one. Each individual ink drop has a volume smaller than one drop that is ejected when the chamber has only a single nozzle. Improved print quality by spraying multiple drops simultaneously from a single chamber.

At all nozzles, the spray drops have a degree of misdirection. Depending on the degree of orientation mismatch, this can be detrimental to print quality. By providing a plurality of nozzles in the chamber, each nozzle sprays smaller volumes of droplets with different direction mismatches. Each small drop of direction mismatch in several directions is less detrimental to print quality than a relatively large drop of direction mismatch. Applicants have found that the human eye effectively 'sees' one dot by one drop with a much smaller overall direction mismatch by averaging the direction mismatch of each small droplet.

In addition, a multi nozzle chamber can spray droplets more effectively than a single nozzle chamber. Since the heater member 29 is an elongated suspended beam made of TiAlN, bubbles formed by the heater member are also elongated. The pressure pulse generated by the elongated bubbles will cause ink to be ejected through the nozzle disposed at the center. However, some of the energy from the pressure pulses is lost due to hydraulic losses associated with the mismatch between the bubble shape and the nozzle shape.

Placing a plurality of nozzles 25 along the length of the heater member 29 reduces the geometric mismatch between the bubble shape and the nozzle shape from which ink is injected. This improves printhead efficiency by reducing the water resistance to ink spraying.

Ink Chamber Re-Filled Via Adjacent Ink Chamber

Referring to Fig. 46, two unit cells facing each other are shown. In this configuration, the unit cell has four ink chambers 38. The chambers are formed by the side wall 22 and the ink penetrating structure 34. Each chamber has its own heater member 29. The heater members 29 are arranged in pairs connected in series. Between each pair is a 'cold spot' 54 with lower electrical resistance and / or larger heat sinking. This ensures that the bubbles do not aggregate at the cold spot 54 such that the cold spot becomes a common contact between the outer contacts 28 of each pair of heater elements.

The ink penetrating structure 34 obstructs the pressure pulses from each heater member 29 to allow ink to refill the chamber 38 after drop ejection but to reduce fluid crosstalk between adjacent chambers. . It will be understood that this configuration has many similarities to the configuration shown in FIG. 49 described above. However, in this embodiment, the relatively long chamber shown in Fig. 49 is effectively divided into two divided chambers. It also aligns the shape of the bubbles formed by the heater member 29 in the form of a nozzle 25 that can reduce fluid loss during droplet injection. This is accomplished without reducing the nozzle density but adds some complexity to the manufacturing process.

The conduits (ink inlet 15 and ink supply conduit 23) for distributing ink to all the ink chambers in this arrangement can occupy a large portion of the wafer area. This can be a limiting factor for the nozzle density of the printhead. By making some of the ink chamber portions of the ink flow path into other ink chambers while maintaining each ink chamber sufficiently to avoid fluid crosstalk, the area of the wafer lost by the ink supply conduits is reduced.

Ink Chamber with Multiple Actuators and Respective Nozzles

Referring to Fig. 54, the unit cell shown has two chambers 38, each of which has two heater elements 29 and two nozzles 25. The effective reduction of drop direction mismatch by using a plurality of nozzles per chamber has been previously discussed in connection with the configuration shown in FIG. The additional benefit of dividing one elongate chamber into a split chamber, each with its own actuator, has been described above in connection with the configuration shown in FIG. In this embodiment, a plurality of nozzles and a plurality of actuators are used in each chamber to achieve many of the advantages of the rather complicatedly designed FIG. 46 configuration. In the case of a simple design, the nozzle density can be further increased by reducing the overall size of the unit cell. In the configuration shown, the footprint of the unit cell is 64 μm in length × 16 μm in width.

The ink penetrating structure 34 is a single column in the ink refill opening of each chamber 38 instead of three spaced apart pillars as in the FIG. 46 configuration. The single column has a lower cross section profile with less resistance to refill flow but greater resistance to sudden backflow due to actuation pressure pulses. Both heater elements in each chamber may be deposited simultaneously with the contact portion 28 and the cold spot structure 54. Both chambers 38 are supplied with ink to the common ink inlet 15 and the ink supply conduit 23. In addition, these structures allow the footprint to be reduced, which is described in more detail below. The liquid injection structure 18 is essentially formed with respect to the wall ink conduit 23 and the side wall of one of the chamber side walls 22. The dual purpose nature of these structures helps to simplify manufacturing and maintain a compact design.

Multiple Chambers and Multiple Nozzles for each Drive Circuit

In Fig. 54, the actuators are connected in series and operate in unison by the same drive signal to simplify the CMOS drive circuit. In the unit cell of FIG. 46, actuators in adjacent nozzles are connected in series to the same drive circuit. Of course, actuators in adjacent chambers may be connected in parallel. In contrast, if the actuators in each chamber are in separate circuits, the CMOS drive circuit will be more complex and the size of the unit cell footprint will increase. In printhead designs in which drop misalignment is handled by using multiple smaller drops instead, combining multiple actuators and their respective nozzles into a common drive circuit can be viewed in terms of printhead IC manufacturing and nozzle density. Both are effective practices.

High Density Thermal Inkjet Printhead

By reducing the unit cell width, the print head may have a nozzle pattern previously required to reduce the nozzle density. Of course, low nozzle densities have a significant impact on printhead size and / or print quality.

Traditionally, the nozzle rows are arranged in pairs of actuators for each row extending in the opposite direction. These rows are staggered with respect to each other so that the print resolution (dots per inch) is twice the nozzle pitch (number of nozzles per inch) along each row. By forming the components of the unit cell so that the overall width of the unit is reduced, the same number of nozzles are placed in a single row instead of two rows of facing and staggered without sacrificing any print resolution (dpi). Can be. The arrangements shown in the accompanying drawings achieve nozzle pitches of 1000 or more nozzles per inch in each linear row. At this nozzle pitch, the print resolution of the printhead is higher than the photograph (1600 dpi) when two facing and staggered rows are considered, ensuring that nozzle redundancy and printhead operating life are satisfactorily maintained. There is sufficient tolerance for dead nozzle compensation and so on. As described above, the configuration shown in Fig. 54 has an occupied area of 16 mu m in width, so the nozzle pitch along one row is about 1600 nozzles per inch. Thus, the columns arranged in two stages give a resolution of about 3200 dpi.

With the realization of particular benefits associated with narrower unit cells, Applicants have focused their attention on identifying and combining multiple components to reduce the size of the components associated with the printhead. For example, elliptical nozzles that move the position of the ink inlet from the chamber, finer geometrical logic and shorter drive FETs (field effect transistors) may be used by the applicant to derive some of the configurations shown. Each contributing feature required deviating from traditional knowledge in the field, for example reducing the FET drive voltage from 5V to 2.5V, which was widely used to reduce transistor length.

Reduced Stiction Printhead Surface

As is known, static friction or "static friction" impedes the movement of the nozzle because it allows dust particles to "stick" to the nozzle plate. 50 shows a part of the nozzle plate 56. For clarity, the nozzle hole 26 and the nozzle rim 25 are also shown. The outer surface of the nozzle plate is formed with a columnar protrusion 58 extending in a short length from the surface of the plate. The nozzle plate may also be patterned into other surface components such as closely spaced ridges, corrugations or bumps. However, it is easy to make a UV mask suitable for forming the columnar protrusion pattern shown, and it is simple to etch the pillars on the outer surface.

By reducing the static friction coefficient, paper dust and other contaminants are less likely to interfere with nozzle movement on the nozzle plate. Patterning the outside of the nozzle plate with a protruding structure limits the surface area that dust particles contact. If the particles can only contact the outer ends of the angular structure, the friction between the particles and the nozzle plate is minimal and the adhesion amount is much smaller. Once particles are attached, they are easily removed during the printhead maintenance cycle.

Inlet Priming Feature

Referring to FIG. 47, the illustrated two unit cells extend in opposite directions to each other. The ink inlet passage 15 supplies ink to the four chambers 38 through the side ink conduits 23. Dispensing ink to individual MMS nozzles in the inkjet printhead through micron-scale conduits such as ink inlet 15 may be due to factors that do not occur in macro-scale flow. Complex. Depending on the shape of the hole, a meniscus can be formed, which can be 'pin' quite firmly to the lip of the hole. Like a bleed hole that keeps ink on the other hand while letting out trapped bubbles, this can be beneficial for the printhead, but on the other hand, stopping the flow of ink into a chamber can be problematic. This can easily happen when the ink is first filled in the printhead. If the ink meniscus is fixed in the ink inlet opening, the chambers filled by the inlet will remain unfilled with ink. To prevent this, two liquid injection structures 18 are formed to extend through the plane of the inlet hole 15. The liquid injection structure 18 is a pillar extending from the inside of the nozzle plate (not shown) to the circumference of the inlet 15. Some of each column 18 is inside the periphery so that surface tension of the ink meniscus at the ink inlet can be formed in the liquid injection structure 18 so that ink can be discharged out of the inlet. This moves the meniscus from the circumferential region and directs the flow towards the ink chamber.

This liquid injection structure 18 can take many forms as long as the liquid injection structure provides a surface extending across the plane of the hole. Also, this liquid injection structure can be an integral part of another nozzle structure as shown in FIG.

Side Entry Ink Chamber

Referring to Fig. 48, several adjacent unit cells are shown. In such a configuration, the elongated heater member 29 extends alongside the ink distribution conduit 23. Thus, the elongated ink chambers 38 are aligned in parallel as with the ink conduits 23. Sidewall openings 60 connect the chambers 38 with an ink conduit 23. Configuring the ink chambers to have side inlets reduces ink refill time. Since the inlet is wider, the refill flow rate is faster. These sidewall openings 60 have an ink penetrating structure 34 to maintain fluid crosstalk to an acceptable level.

Inlet Filter for Ink Chamber

Referring to Fig. 47, the ink refilling opening of each chamber 38 has a filter structure 40 for filtering air bubbles and other contaminants. Air bubbles and solid containment in the ink are harmful to the MES nozzle structure. If the bubble is trapped in the ink chamber, it is clear that the solid contaminant can block the nozzle opening even if a highly compressible bubble can absorb the pressure pulse from the actuator. This virtually disables ink ejection from the affected nozzle. In the form of a row of obstructions extending across the flow direction through the opening, with each row spaced apart from the registration in the row adjacent to the flow direction to prevent registration By providing the furnace filter structure 40, contaminants will not enter the chamber 38 unless the ink refill flow rate is too slow. The heat is offset relative to each other so that induced turbulence has a minimal effect on the nozzle refill rate, while air bubbles or other contaminants are retained by the obstruction 40 by the air bubbles or contaminants. It follows a relatively meandering euro that increases the chances of becoming.

The illustrated configuration uses two rows of obstacles 40 in the form of pillars extending between the wafer substrate and the nozzle plate.

Intercolour Surface Barriers in Multi Color Inkjet Printhead

Returning to FIG. 51, the outer surface of the nozzle 56 is shown for a unit cell as shown in FIG. 46 above. The nozzle hole 26 is located directly above the heater member, not shown, and a series of square corner ink grooves 44 are formed in the nozzle plate 56 on the ink conduit 23 (see Fig. 46).

Inkjet printers usually have a maintenance station that caps the printhead when it is not being used. In order to remove excess ink from the nozzle plate, the capper can be released from the engagement state so that the capper comes off from the outer surface of the nozzle plate. This promotes the formation of the meniscus between the surface of the capper and the outer surface of the nozzle plate. The surface tension of the meniscus is related to the angle of contact with the surface (for more details, see the Applicant's co-pending USSN (Document No. FND007US), incorporated herein by reference), Using contact angle hysteresis, most of the ink that wets the outer surface of the nozzle plate can be attracted and collected along the meniscus. The ink is properly deposited as large droplets at the point where the capper is completely disengaged from the nozzle plate. Unfortunately, some ink remains on the nozzle plate. If the printhead is a multicolor printhead, since the meniscus draws ink over the entire surface of the nozzle plate, any residual ink remaining in or around the defined nozzle hole may be a different color than the ink ejected from the nozzle. Can be. Ink contamination at the other nozzles with ink from one nozzle can cause visible artefacts in printing.

A groove formation 44 extending across the direction in which the capper separates from the nozzle plate will escape and retain a portion of the ink with a meniscus. Although these grooves do not collect all of the ink into the meniscus, these grooves significantly lower the level of nozzle contamination due to the different color inks.

Bubble Trap

Bubbles incorporated in the ink are very bad for printhead operation. In general, air, or more precisely gas, is highly compressible and can therefore absorb pressure pulses from the actuator. If the trapped bubbles are simply compressed by the actuator, no ink will be ejected from the nozzle. The trapped bubbles can be ejected from the printhead along with the forced flow of ink, but the ejected ink needs to be ejected and the forced flow can easily create new bubbles.

The configuration shown in FIG. 46 has a bubble trap at the ink inlet 15. This trap is formed by the bubble holding structure 32 and the vent 36 formed in the roof layer. This bubble holding structure is a series of pillars 32 spaced around the perimeter of the inlet 15. As described above, the ink injection structure 18 has a dual purpose and suitably forms a part of the bubble holding structure. In use, the ink permeation trap directs gas bubbles toward the air outlets that exhaust air to the surroundings. By catching the bubbles at the ink inlet and directing them to the small air outlet, these bubbles are effectively removed from the ink flow without any ink leaking.

Multiple Ink Inlet Flow Paths

Instead of a complex ink distribution system, supplying ink to the nozzle through a conduit extending from one side of the wafer to the other can cause the wider wafer area (on the ink ejecting side) to have the nozzle. However, microscale holes deeply etched through the wafer are susceptible to clogging by contaminants or air bubbles. This leads to a shortage of ink supplied to the nozzle by the affected inlet.

As best shown in FIG. 48, a printhead according to the present invention is provided with at least two ink supplies to the respective chambers 38 through an ink conduit 23 between the nozzle plate and the underlying wafer. An ink inlet 15 is provided.

Introduction of ink conduits 23 which supply ink to the various chambers 38 and also receive ink from the various ink inlets 15 reduces the chance of ink being insufficiently supplied to the nozzles due to inlet clogging. Let's do it. If either inlet 15 is clogged, this ink conduit will eject more ink from the other inlet in the wafer. Although the present invention has been described above in connection with specific embodiments, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention may be configured in many other forms.

Claims (20)

  1. A method of manufacturing a suspended beam in a MEMS process, the method comprising:
    (a) etching a pit having a base and sidewalls to the substrate;
    (b) depositing a sacrificial material on the surface of the substrate to fill the pit;
    (c) removing the sacrificial material from a perimeter region within the pit and a substrate surface surrounding the pit;
    (d) reflowing residual sacrificial material in the pit to bring the residual sacrificial material into contact with the sidewalls;
    (e) depositing a beam material on the substrate surface and backwashed sacrificial material; And
    (f) removing the counter flow sacrificial material to form a suspended beam;
    Method for producing a suspension-type beam comprising a.
  2. The method of claim 1,
    And said suspended beam is substantially planar.
  3. The method of claim 1,
    And all portions of the suspended beam have substantially the same thickness.
  4. The method of claim 1,
    And said suspended beam is an actuator for an inkjet nozzle.
  5. The method of claim 4, wherein
    And said actuator is a heater element.
  6. The method of claim 5,
    The heater member is a suspension beam manufacturing method characterized in that the suspension between a pair of electrodes (electrode).
  7. The method of claim 1,
    And said substrate is a silicon wafer.
  8. The method of claim 7, wherein
    And said silicon wafer comprises at least one surface oxide layer.
  9. The method of claim 1,
    And the sacrificial material is a photoresist.
  10. The method of claim 8,
    And the photoresist is removed by exposure through a mask following development.
  11. The method of claim 1,
    And said circumferential region comprises an area adjacent to at least two of said sidewalls.
  12. The method of claim 1,
    And said circumferential region comprises an area adjacent to all of said sidewalls.
  13. The method of claim 1,
    Removing said sacrificial material from said circumferential region forms a space of less than 1 micron between said residual sacrificial material and at least two of the sidewalls.
  14. The method of claim 1,
    Removing said sacrificial material from said circumferential region forms a space of less than 1 micron between said residual sacrificial material and all of said sidewalls.
  15. The method of claim 1,
    And said reflowing is performed by heating said sacrificial material.
  16. The method of claim 1,
    And said sacrificial material is treated prior to deposition of the beam material to prevent excessive backflow.
  17. The method of claim 16,
    And said treatment comprises UV curing.
  18. The method of claim 1,
    And the beam material is etched in a predetermined configuration after deposition.
  19. The method of claim 1,
    After the deposition of the beam material and prior to the removal of the counter flowed sacrificial material, a subsequent step of the MEMS process is carried out.
  20. The method of claim 18,
    The subsequent step of the MEMS process includes forming an inkjet nozzle including the suspended beam.
KR20087011016A 2005-10-10 2005-10-10 Method of fabricating suspended beam in a ???? process KR101000212B1 (en)

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EP1934133A4 (en) 2012-09-26
EP1934133A1 (en) 2008-06-25
JP4960965B2 (en) 2012-06-27
JP2009511295A (en) 2009-03-19
KR20080066781A (en) 2008-07-16
WO2007041748A1 (en) 2007-04-19
AU2005337420B2 (en) 2009-10-29

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