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Laser prototyping of MEMS structures and SiN cantilevers: experience teaching a practical undergraduate course

Laser prototyping of MEMS structures and SiN cantilevers: experience teaching a practical undergraduate course

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Bulk micromachining silicon to form microbeams is a common procedure in MEMS fabrication. A focused laser is used to cut patterns directly in a silicon nitride or silicon carbide mask layer to prototype new structures and test geometries. In the past two years this flexible approach has been used as the basis of a practical undergraduate course in which students (a) design shapes using CAD, (b) cut them using the laser system, (c) micromachine in a clean room using anisotropic wet etching, (d) take microscope images, and (e) use a mechanical profilometer to test the silicon nitride microbeams and measure the elastic modulus. This teaching approach is outlined and the utility of hands-on practical work in MEMS education is assessed.

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