Fabrication and characterisation of carbon-based devices
Thin film material properties and measurement characterisation techniques are crucial for the development of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) devices. Furthermore, as the technology scales down from microtechnology towards nanotechnology, nanoscale materials such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are required in electronic devices to overcome the limitations encountered by conventional materials at the nanoscale. The integration of CNTs into micro-electronics and material applications is expected to provide a wide range of new applications. The work presented in this thesis has contributed to the development of thin film material characterisation through research on the thermal conductivity measurement and the control of the residual stress of thin film materials used commonly in MEMS devices. In addition, the use of CNTs in micro-electronics and as filler reinforcement in composite materials applications have been investigated, leading to low resistivity CNTs interconnects and CNTs-Polyimide (PI) composites based resistive humidity sensors. In the first part of this thesis, the thermal conductivity of conductive thin films as well as the control of the residual stress arising from fabrication process in PI micro-cantilevers have been studied. A MEMS device has been developed for the thermal conductivity characterisation of conductive thin films showing good agreement with thermal conductivity of bulk material. Low energy Ar+ ion bombardment in a plasma has been used to control the residual stress present in PI cantilevers. Appropriate ion energy and exposure time have led to stress relaxation of the beams resulting in a straight PI cantilever beam. In the second part of this thesis, low resistivity CNTs interconnects have been developed using both dielectrophoresis (DEP) and Focused Ion Beam (FIB) techniques. An investigation of the effects of CNT concentration, applied voltage and frequency on the CNTs alignment between Al and Ti electrodes has resulted in the lowering of the CNTs’ resistance. The deposition of Pt contact using FIB at the CNTs-metal electrodes interface has been found to decrease the high contact resistances of the devices by four and two orders of magnitude for Al and Ti electrodes respectively. The last part of this thesis focuses on the preparation of CNTs-PI composite materials, its characterisation and its application as resistive humidity sensor. The integration of CNTs inside the PI matrix has resulted in enhancing significantly the electrical and mechanical properties of the composites. In particular, a DEP technique employed to induce CNTs alignment inside the PI matrix during curing has been attributed to play an important role in improving the composite properties and lowering the percolation threshold. In addition, the fabrication and testing of CNTs-PI resistive humidity sensors have been carried out. The sensing performance of the devices have shown to be dependent highly on the CNT concentration. Finally, the alignment of CNTs by DEP has improved the sensing properties of CNTs-PI humidity sensors and confirmed that the change of resistance in response to humidity is governed by the change of the CNTs’ resistances due to charge transfer from the water molecules to the CNTs.