PZT Thin Film Micro Probe Device with Dual Top Electrodes
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Lead zirconate titanate (PZT) thin-film actuators have been studied intensively for years because of their potential applications in many fields. In this dissertation, a PZT thin-film micro probe device is designed, fabricated, studied, and proven to be acceptable as an intracochlear acoustic actuator. The micro probe device takes the form of a cantilever with a PZT thin-film diaphragm at the tip of the probe. The tip portion of the probe will be implanted in cochlea later in animal tests to prove its feasibility in hearing rehabilitation. The contribution of the dissertation is three-fold. First, a dual top electrodes design, consisting of a center electrode and an outer electrode, is developed to improve actuation displacement of the PZT thin-film diaphragm. The improvement by the dual top electrodes design is studied via a finite element model. When the dimensions of the dual electrodes are optimized, the displacement of the PZT thin-film diaphragm increases about 30%. A PZT thin-film diaphragm with dual top electrodes is fabricated to prove the concept, and experimental results confirm the predictions from the finite element analyses. Moreover, the dual electrode design can accommodate presence of significant residual stresses in the PZT thin-film diaphragm by changing the phase difference between the two electrodes. Second, a PZT thin-film micro probe device is fabricated and tested. The fabrication process consists of PZT thin-film deposition and deep reactive ion etching (DRIE). The uniqueness of the fabrication process is an automatic dicing mechanism that allows a large number of probes to be released easily from the wafer. Moreover, the fabrication is very efficient, because the DRIE process will form the PZT thin-film diaphragm and the special dicing mechanism simultaneously. After the probes are fabricated, they are tested with various possible implantation depths (i.e., boundary conditions). Experimental results show that future implantation depths should be less than 3 mm in order to guarantee the first resonant frequency above 60 kHz. Finally, a package for the PZT thin-film micro probe device is developed to ensure its proper function in an aqueous environment, such as inside of cochlea. The package is an insulation layer of parylene coating on the probe. A finite element analysis indicates that a coating thickness of less than 1 μm will reduce the PZT diaphragm displacement by less than 10%. A special fixture is designed to hold a large number of probes for parylene deposition of a thickness of 250 nm. A packaged probe is then submerged in deionized water and functions properly for at least 55 hours. Displacement and impedance of the probe are measured via a laser Doppler vibrometer and an impedance analyzer, respectively. Experimental results show that displacement of the PZT diaphragm increases about 30% in two hours, after the probe is submerged in the deionized water. The impedance measurement shows consistent trends. A hypothesis to explain this unusual phenomenon is diffusion of water molecules into the PZT thin film. High-resolution SEM images of the probe indicate presence of numerous nano-pores in the surface of the PZT thin film, indirectly confirming the hypothesis.
- Mechanical engineering