VERSALINE® Deep Silicon Etch™ System
St. Petersburg, FL

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, recently installed a VERSALINE Deep Silicon Etch system to expand its silicon deep-etching resources. The new etching system targets silicon-based applications that include MEMS, sensors, and resonators. JPL’s Microdevices Laboratory (MDL) serves users with many different requirements, and the system’s mask selectivity, uniformity, vertical profiles, sidewall smoothness, and silicon-on-insulator capabilities will be used to meet their device fabrication needs.

The new system will complement JPL’s existing suite of Plasma-Therm equipment, which has been used to make mission- critical components for NASA explorations. JPL scientists utilized the system to help fabricate sensors for the Planck and Hershel missions to map infrared and submillimeter cosmic radiation, and the spectrometer grating installed on the Moon-mapper to detect water. Tunable diode lasers to sense methane and other metabolic products from possible past life forms, part of the planetary exploration project involving the Mars Rover, were also made with the assistance of Plasma- Therm technology.

A recent report describes new cosmic microwave background polarization measurements, providing strong confirmation of the Big Bang theory and insight into the first moments of a rapidly expanding universe. The low-noise, superconducting, and bolometer-based detectors were fabricated using Plasma-Therm systems that are part of the process toolset at MDL.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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