FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
October 17, 2001
Previews do more than sell movies
modelers help micromachine designers succeed in economic jungle
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Just as a movie theaters coming attractions
help viewers choose movies they may want to see, preview images computer
-generated of possible micromachines help designers choose the device they
want fully fabricated.
Pretty in Red this dynamic trio of images show, respectively,
a computerized preview of an overview, electrical connect, and photoresist mask
for a torsional ratchet actuator.
300dpi JPEG image, tra_overview.jpg, 176K (Media are welcome
to download/publish this image with related news stories.)
The need for previewing is particularly important because microdesigns for telecommunications, inkjet printing, and medical and auto safety devices to name just a few are fighting for dominance in new, still unestablished fields.
So it is disheartening for designers to learn after months of work designing
a prototype, followed by the time and cost of fabricating it that a brainchild
needs further modifications before it can be marketed as a workable device.
To make life easier for designers, Sandia National Laboratories researchers
Vic Yarberry and Craig Jorgensen have crafted 2-D and 3-D modeling programs.
Two-dimensional modeling shows the flat-plane cross sections of devices as they
would look if fabricated. The 3-D version allows designers to twirl their virtual
microdevices like airplane parts modeled in the macroworld, the still-imaginary
part viewed from any perspective. Unworkable portions of the design can be modified
or eliminated before not after fabrication work is paid for at the
foundry. Sandia is a US Department of Energy laboratory.
Its not intuitive how the layers interact, says Jorgensen.
MEMS [microelectromechanical systems] are wonderful in that they come out
thousands at a time, all in one piece with no assembly necessary, but theres
nothing about fabricating them that is simple. Youre building patterned
layers on top of other patterned layers, which can create a complex 3-D geometry.
Its not easy for former macroworld designers to combine 2D mask geometry with newly learned information about the MEMS fabrication process itself, says Yarberry, and, on the first try, to create functional 3D structures.
Glitches occur because most researchers who design multilayered microdevices
find it difficult to visualize how the micronsized features of the etched layers
The simulation process does take time. A simple microdevice can be simulated in seconds; a complicated one can take hours. Still, waiting for a computer to complete its complex modeling beats waiting months to find out what modifications one should have made.
Sandias Marc Polosky, who designs safety components in weapons systems,
says the 2-D cross-sectioner enables him to visualize the effect of cuts in different
thin film layers.
Put simply, he says, If youre makng a gear on a pin joint, the program helps
make sure youre not designing a gear thats rigidily fixed to the substrate and
While the 2-D program is a valuable design tool that should help new designers
get up to speed faster, Polosky says, the 3-D modeler has potential of going to
the next step kinematic modeling that will demonstrate these devices
performing in environments.
Two papers by Yarberry and Jorgensen on their modeling work were selected for
presentation at the Fourth International Conference on Modeling and Simulation
of Microsystems, held this past spring at Hilton Head Island. The conference is
probably the largest and most prestigious in providing an interdisciplinary forum
for modeling, simulation, and scientific computing in the microelectronic, semiconductor,
sensors, materials, and biotechnology fields.
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
firstname.lastname@example.org, (505) 845-7078
Sandia Technical contacts:
Jay Jakubczak, email@example.com, (505) 844-9196
Vic Yarberry, firstname.lastname@example.org, (505) 844-9322