Inexpensive, Compact Deep Reactive Ion Etching System for Small Substrates


This technology can be used in processing small-sized semiconductor substrates suitable for rapid prototyping as well as niche semiconductor products. The fabrication process is useful for manufacturing:

  • microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices
  • optoelectronics
  • devices that require non-standard workflows
  • rapid prototyping

Problem Addressed

The state of the art fabrication facilities for standardized CMOS often costs 1 billion USD or more. The capital cost is a substantial barrier for smaller companies that make specialized devices for MEMS-based sensors or optoelectronics or those which require a unique process. In addition, when testing new IC designs, the fabless semiconductor companies must send their prototypes to a major foundry that causes many months of delay in testing and product information, increasing the market risk. Access to inexpensive tools and methods for small-substrate wafer fabrication will significantly improve time to market for fabless semiconductor companies, and allow cost effective production of specialty ICs


This technology presents a deep reactive ion etcher (DRIE) system that is suitable for processing small-sized semiconductor substrate. The technology uses a time multiplexed process that rapidly alternates between reactive ion etching and plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition enabling creation of highly anisotropic, high aspect-ratio trenches in silicon that is often required in fabrication of MEMS devices. The system cost is estimated to be a fraction of the commercially available etching systems; and a etching rate of 4 micron/min can be achieved with a precise control on the etched profile.


  • Inexpensive fabrication process
  • Compact system size
  • Etch rates of 7 micron/min
  • Precise etching profile
  • Low energy consumption
  • Savings on raw material