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Title:
HERMETICALLY SEALED MOLECULAR SPECTROSCOPY CELL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/051229
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An illustrate method (and device) includes etching a cavity (202) in a first substrate (e.g., a semiconductor wafer), forming (204) a first metal layer on a first surface of the first substrate and in the cavity, and forming (206) a second metal layer on a non-conductive structure (e.g., glass). The method also may include removing (208) a portion of the second metal layer to form an iris to expose a portion of the non-conductive structure, forming (210) a bond between the first metal layer and the second metal layer to thereby attach the non-conductive structure to the first substrate, sealing (212) an interface between the non-conductive structure and the first substrate, and patterning (214) an antenna on a surface of the non-conductive structure.

Inventors:
HERBSOMMER, Juan, Alejandro (1024 Blanco Drive, Allen, TX, 75013, US)
JACOBS, Simon, Joshua (232 Forestview Dr, Lucas, TX, 75002, US)
COOK, Benjamin, Stassen (14592 Poe Ct, Addison, TX, 75001, US)
FRUEHLING, Adam, Joseph (622 Bradfield Drive, Garland, TX, 75042, US)
Application Number:
US2018/049955
Publication Date:
March 14, 2019
Filing Date:
September 07, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INCORPORATED (P.O. Box 655474, Mail Station 3999Dallas, TX, 75265-5474, US)
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS JAPAN LIMITED (24-1, Nishi-Shinjuku 6-chomeShinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-8366, JP)
International Classes:
H01L21/02; G04F5/14
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016161215A12016-10-06
Foreign References:
US20060022761A12006-02-02
US20100259334A12010-10-14
US6998691B22006-02-14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIS, Michael, A. et al. (Texas Instruments Incorporated, P.O. Box 655474 Mail Station 399, Dallas TX, 75265-5474, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A method for forming a sealed cavity, comprising:

etching a cavity in a first substrate;

forming a first metal layer on a first surface of the first substrate and in the cavity;

forming a second metal layer on a non-conductive structure;

removing a portion of the second metal layer to form an iris to expose a portion of the non- conductive structure;

forming a bond between the first metal layer and the second metal layer to thereby attach the non-conductive structure to the first substrate;

sealing an interface between the non-conductive structure and the first substrate; and patterning an antenna on a surface of the non-conductive structure.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising depositing and patterning an electronic bandgap structure on the non-conductive structure.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein creating the cavity comprises wet etching the cavity.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein the wet etching uses at least one of potassium hydroxide (KOH) and tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) as a wet etchant.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein forming a bond between the first and second metal layers comprises depositing a eutectic alloy on a surface of at least one of the first and second metal layers.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein forming the second metal layer on the non-conductive structure comprises forming the second metal layer on a glass sheet.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the first substrate comprises a semiconductor material.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein:

the non-conductive structure comprises at least one of glass, ceramic, and silicon;and the first substrate comprises at least one of a semiconductor material and a ceramic.

9. A device, comprising:

a first substrate attached to a non-conductive structure, wherein the first substrate includes a cavity which is covered by the non-conductive structure;

a first metal layer on a surface of the first substrate and in the cavity;

a second metal layer on a surface of non-conductive structure, wherein the second metal layer includes an iris exposing the non-conductive structure; and

a first antenna patterned on a surface of the non-conductive structure opposite the first substrate.

10. The device of claim 9, further comprising an electronic bandgap structure on a surface of the non-conductive structure.

11. The device of claim 9, wherein the cavity includes dipolar molecules.

12. The device of claim 9, wherein the dipolar molecules are water molecules;

13. The device of claim 9, wherein the cavity has a pressure of less than 0.15 mbars.

14. The device of claim 9, wherein the non-conductive structure comprises at least one of glass, ceramic, and silicon.

15. The device of claim 9, wherein the first substrate comprises at least one of a semiconductor wafer and ceramic, and wherein the second substrate comprises at least one of a semiconductor substrate and ceramic.

16. The device of claim 9, wherein the non-conductive structure comprises glass and each of the first and second substrates comprise a semiconductor substrate.

17. The device of claim 9, further comprising an amplifier, a filter, a signal generator, and a second antenna patterned on the surface of the non-conductive structure opposite the first substrate, wherein:

the signal generator is coupled to the first antenna and is configured to generate a transmit signal to the first antenna;

the amplifier is coupled to the second antenna and is configured to generate an error signal based on a receive signal from the second antenna and the transmit signal; and

the filter is coupled to the amplifier and the signal generate, and is configured to generate a control output signal, based on the error signal, to adjust a frequency of the transmit signal generated by the signal generator.

18. A device, comprising:

a semiconductor substrate attached to a glass sheet, wherein the semiconductor substrate includes a cavity which is covered by the glass sheet;

a first metal layer on a surface of the semiconductor substrate and in the cavity;

a second metal layer on a surface of a glass sheet, wherein the second metal layer includes an iris exposing a portion of the glass sheet; and first and second antennas patterned on a surface of the glass sheet opposite the semiconductor substrate;

a transceiver electrically coupled to the first and second antennas and configured to inject a transmit signal into the cavity through the first antenna, generate an error signal based on the transmit signal and a receive signal from the second antenna, and dynamically adjust a frequency of the transmit signal based on the error signal;

wherein the cavity contains dipolar molecules and has an internal pressure of less than 0.15 mbars.

19. The device of claim 18, wherein the transceiver includes:

a signal generator coupled to the first antenna and configured to generate the transmit signal;

an amplifier coupled to the second antenna and configured to generate the error signal; and a loop filter coupled to the amplifier and the signal generator, wherein the loop filter is configured to, based on the error signal, generate a control output signal to the signal generator.

20. The device of claim 18, further comprising a seal to seal the glass sheet to the semiconductor substrate.

Description:
HERMETICALLY SEALED MOLECULAR SPECTROSCOPY CELL BACKGROUND

[0001] Various applications may include a sealed chamber formed in a semiconductor structure. In one particular application, a chip-scale atomic clock may include a selected vapor at a low pressure in a sealed chamber. Forming such structures can be a challenge.

SUMMARY

[0002] In one embodiment, a method includes etching a cavity in a first substrate (e.g., a semiconductor wafer), forming a first metal layer on a first surface of the first substrate and in the cavity, and forming a second metal layer on a non-conductive structure (e.g., glass). The method also may include removing a portion of the second metal layer to form an iris to expose a portion of the non-conductive structure, forming a bond between the first metal layer and the second metal layer to thereby attach the non-conductive structure to the first substrate, sealing an interface between the non-conductive structure and the first substrate, and patterning an antenna on a surface of the non-conductive structure. The method also may include the deposition or bonding of further dielectric and metal layers and their subsequent patterning on the topmost surface to improve the radio frequency (RF) performance of antenna, transmission line structures, and electromagnetic bandgap structures.

[0003] In another embodiment, a device includes a first substrate attached to a non-conductive structure. The first substrate includes a cavity which is covered by the non-conductive structure. A first metal layer is provided on a surface of the first substrate and in the cavity. Further, a second metal layer is provided on a surface of non-conductive structure. The second metal layer includes an iris exposing the non-conductive structure; and. A first antenna is patterned on a surface of the non-conductive structure opposite the first substrate.

[0004] In yet another embodiment, a device includes a semiconductor substrate attached to a glass sheet. The semiconductor substrate includes a cavity which is covered by the glass sheet. A first metal layer is provided on a surface of the semiconductor substrate and in the cavity, and a second metal layer is provided on a surface of the glass sheet. The second metal layer includes an iris exposing a portion of the glass sheet. First and second antennas are patterned on a surface of the glass sheet opposite the semiconductor substrate. The device also may include a transceiver electrically coupled to the first and second antennas and configured to inject a transmit signal into the cavity through the first antenna, generate an error signal based on the transmit signal and a receive signal from the second antenna, and dynamically adjust a frequency of the transmit signal based on the error signal. The cavity may contain dipolar molecules and has an internal pressure of less than 0.15 mbars.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] FIGS. lA-1 J illustrate a sequence of processing operations in one embodiment to form a hermetically sealed cavity.

[0006] FIG. 2 illustrates a method flow chart to form a hermetically sealed cavity in accordance with various embodiments.

[0007] FIG. 3 shows a cross-sectional view of the hermetically sealed cavity of various embodiments.

[0008] FIG. 4 shows a block diagram for a clock generator in accordance with various embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODFMENTS

[0009] In this description, the term "couple" or "couples" means either an indirect or direct wired or wireless connection. Thus, if a first device couples to a second device, that connection may be through a direct connection or through an indirect connection via other devices and connections. Also, in this description, the recitation "based on" means "based at least in part on." Therefore, if X is based on Y, then X may be a function of Y and any number of other factors.

[0010] The described embodiments include techniques to fabricate a hermetically sealed cavity in a substrate. A structure containing a substrate with the cavity may be used in numerous applications. One illustrative use is as a millimeter wave chip scale atomic clock. The cavity may contain dipolar molecules (e.g., water molecules) at a relatively low pressure. For some embodiments, the pressure may be approximately 0.1 mbarr for water molecules. If argon molecules were used, the pressure may be several atmospheres. The hermetically sealed cavity may contain selected dipolar molecules at a pressure chosen to optimize the amplitude of a signal absorption peak of the molecules detected at an output of the cavity. An electromagnetic signal may be injected through aperture into the cavity. Through closed-loop control, the frequency of the signal is dynamically adjusted to match the frequency corresponding to the absorption peak of the molecules in the cavity. The frequency produced by quantum rotation of the selected dipolar molecules may be unaffected by circuit aging and may not vary with temperature or other environmental factors.

[0011] While a variety of materials and manufacturing operations can be employed, one illustrative method may include etching a cavity in a first substrate (e.g., a semiconductor wafer), forming a first metal layer on a first surface of the first substrate and in the cavity, forming a second metal layer on a non-conductive structure (e.g., glass such as a glass sheet), removing a portion of the second metal layer to form an iris to expose a portion of the non-conductive structure, forming a bond between the first metal layer and the second metal layer to thereby attach the non-conductive structure to the first substrate, sealing an interface between the non-conductive structure and the first substrate, and patterning an antenna on a surface of the non-conductive structure.

[0012] FIGS. 1 A-1J illustrate a sequential set of process operations to construct a device with a hermetically sealed cavity. FIG. 1A illustrates a substrate 120. The substrate 120 may comprise a semiconductor substrate (e.g., silicon) in some embodiments, but can be other than a semiconductor substrate such as a ceramic in other embodiments. FIG. IB illustrates that a cavity 125 has been formed in the substrate 120. The cavity 125 may be wet etched into the substrate 120 using a suitable wet etchant such as potassium hydroxide (KOH) or tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH). The cavity has a depth Dl that is application-specific. FIG. 1C illustrates that a metal layer 123 has been deposited on a surface of the substrate 120 and into the cavity 125 as shown. The metal layer 123 may be sputter deposited (e.g., 40 nm TaN per micrometer of copper).

[0013] FIG. ID illustrates a non-conductive structure 130. In one example, the non-conductive structure 130 comprises glass, but can include other types of materials such as ceramic or silicon in other embodiments. A metal layer 132 is shown formed to one surface of the non-conductive structure 130.

[0014] FIG. IE illustrates that an iris 135 has been formed in the metal layer 132. The iris 135 may be formed by removing a portion of the metal layer 132, such as by wet etching, dry etching, liftoff, etc.

[0015] FIG. IF illustrates that bonding structures 145 are deposited and patterned on either or both of the substrate 120 and non-conductive structure 130. In one example, the bonding structures comprise a gold, aluminum, silicon or other types of material that form a eutectic alloy when heated to a suitable temperature. FIG. 1G illustrates a device which includes the cavity 125. Dipolar molecules may be trapped inside the cavity 125. FIG. 1H illustrates that thickness of the non-conductive structure 130 is reduced. For example, an upper layer 136 may be removed. The upper layer 136 may be removed, such as by a suitable etching process.

[0016] FIG. II illustrates that a seal 147 is included to seal the interface between the non- conductive structure 130 and the substrate 120 to thereby hermetically seal the cavity 125. The hermetically sealed cavity 125 may contain dipolar molecules (e.g., water molecules) at an internal pressure of less than 0.15 mbars (e.g., 0.1 mbars).

[0017] An antenna 158 is shown in FIG. 1J patterned on a surface of the non-conductive structure 130. The antenna 158 comprises a conductive material such as copper or gold and an electrical signal can be provided to the antenna or received from the antenna. In some embodiments, one antenna is used to both transmit and receive signals. In other embodiments, a pair of antennas is patterned on the non-conductive structure 108, and one antenna is used to inject a signal into the cavity and another antenna is used to receive a signal from the cavity. In such examples, the antennas may be located at or near opposite ends of the cavity.

[0018] FIG. 2 illustrates a flow chart depicted a method in accordance with an example. The operations may be performed in the order shown, or in a different order. Further, the operations may be performed sequentially, or two or more of the operations may be performed concurrently.

[0019] At 202, the method includes etching a cavity in a first substrate (e.g., a semiconductor wafer or other suitable material). The etching process may comprise a wet etching process as explained above. At 204, the method includes forming a first metal layer (e.g., copper) on a first surface of the first substrate and in the cavity. At 206, the method further includes forming a second metal layer on a non-conductive structure (e.g., glass) and, at 208, the method includes removing a portion of the second metal layer to form an iris (e.g., iris 135) to expose a portion of the non-conductive structure. At 210, the method also includes forming a bond between the first metal layer and the second metal layer to thereby attach the non-conductive structure to the first substrate. The interface between the non-conductive structure and the first substrate is then sealed at 212, and an antenna is patterned on a surface of the non-conductive structure at 214.

[0020] An electronic bandgap structure also may be formed on the non-conductive structure 130. In operation, an electronic bandgap structure may help to attenuate electromagnetic waves along the outer surface of the non-conductive structure 130 between the antennas. The electronic bandgap structure helps to force the energy from the input signal received through an antenna (e.g., antenna 158) into the cavity 125.

[0021] FIG. 3 shows a cross-sectional view of a structure in accordance with the described embodiments. The structure may comprise a millimeter wave chip scale atomic clock. Substrate 120 is shown bonded to non-conductive structure 30 with a hermetically sealed cavity 125 formed in the substrate 120. The iris 135 (not specifically shown in FIG. 3) permits electromagnetic energy to pass through the non-conductive structure 130 from the antenna 158 in the cavity 125. A transmission line 160 also is shown formed on the exterior surface of the non-conductive structure 130 and is used to convey a radio frequency (RF) signal to/from the cavity. Layer 123 provides a common ground plane for all RF structures external to the cavity 125. In addition, it limits propagation of waves travelling in layer 120. The dimensions of the waveguide, antenna, EBG, and size and positioning of the iris 135 are all design considerations based on the chosen molecular species inside the cavity and the wavelength of the interrogation waveform within the cavity. The required bandwidth of the structure depends upon the fabrication tolerances achievable in manufacturing.

[0022] FIG. 4 shows a block diagram for a clock generator 500 in accordance with various embodiments. The clock generator 500 is a millimeter wave atomic clock that generates a reference frequency based on the frequency of quantum rotation of selected dipolar molecules contained in a hermetically sealed cavity 102 formed in semiconductor material. The reference frequency produced by quantum rotation of the selected dipolar molecules is unaffected by circuit aging and does not vary with temperature or other environmental factors.

[0023] The clock generator 500 of FIG. 4 includes a vapor cell 505 formed in this example from substrates as described above. The cell 505 includes a cavity 508 with a sealed interior enclosing a dipolar molecule material gas, such as water (H 2 0) or any other dipolar molecule gas at a relatively low gas pressure inside the cavity 125. Suitable electrical dipolar material gases include water, acetonitrile (CH 3 CN) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN). As shown in FIG. 6, the clock generator 500 further includes a transceiver 600 with a transmit output 633 for providing an electrical transmit signal (TX) to the vapor cell 505, as well as a receiver input 638 for receiving an electrical input signal (RX) from the vapor cell 525. The rotational transition vapor cell 525 does not require optical interrogation, and instead operates through electromagnetic interrogation via the transmit and receive signals (TX, RX) provided by the transceiver 600. [0024] The sealed cavity 508 includes a conductive interior cavity surface, as well as first and second non-conductive apertures 515 and 517 formed in the interior cavity surface for providing an electromagnetic field entrance and an electromagnetic field exit, respectively. In one example, the apertures 515, 517 magnetically couple into the TE10 mode of the cavity 508. In other examples, the apertures 515, 517 excite higher order modes. First and second conductive coupling structure 520 and 525 are formed on an outer surface of the vapor cell 505 proximate the first and second non-conductive aperture 515 and 517, respectively. The coupling structures 520, 525 may be the antenna(s) described above and may comprise a conductive strip formed on a surface of one of the substrates forming the cell 505. Each coupling structure 520, 525 may overlie and cross over the corresponding non-conductive aperture 515, 517 for providing an electromagnetic interface to couple a magnetic field in to (based on the transmit signal TX from the transceiver output 633) the cavity 508 or from the cavity to the transceiver RX input 638 The proximate location of the conductive coupling structures 520, 525 and the corresponding non-conductive apertures 515, 525 advantageously provides electromagnetically transmissive paths through the second or upper substrate 106, which can be any electromagnetically transmissive material.

[0025] The transceiver circuit 600 in certain implementations is implemented on or in an integrated circuit (not shown), to which the vapor cell 505 is electrically coupled for transmission of the TX signal via the output 633 and for receipt of the RX signal via the input 638. The transceiver 600 is operable when powered for providing an alternating electrical output signal TX to the first conductive coupling structure 520 for coupling an electromagnetic field to the interior of the cavity 508, as well as for receiving the alternating electrical input signal RX from the second conductive coupling structure 525 representing the electromagnetic field received from the cavity 508. The transceiver circuit 600 is operable for selectively adjusting the frequency of the electrical output signal TX in order to reduce the electrical input signal RX by interrogation to operate the clock generator 500 at a frequency which substantially maximizes the molecular absorption through rotational motor state transitions, and for providing a reference clock signal REF CLK at the frequency of the TX output signal.

[0026] In certain examples, the transceiver 600 includes a signal generator 602 with an output 633 electrically coupled with the first conductive coupling structure 520 for providing the alternating electrical output signal TX, and for providing the reference clock signal REF CLK at the corresponding transmit output frequency. The transceiver 600 also includes a lock-in amplifier circuit 606 with an input 638 coupled from the second conductive coupling structure 525 for receiving the RX signal. The lock-in amplifier operates to provide an error signal ERR representing a difference between the RX signal and the electrical output signal TX. In one example, the lock-in amplifier 606 provides the error signal ERR as an in-phase output, and the error signal ERR is used as an input by a loop filter 604 to provide a control output signal (CO) to the signal generator 602 for selectively adjusting the TX output signal frequency to maintain this frequency at a peak absorption frequency of the dipolar molecular gas inside the sealed interior of the cavity 508. In some examples, the RF power of the TX and RX loop is controlled so as to avoid or mitigate stark shift affects.

[0027] The electromagnetic coupling via the non-conductive apertures 520, 525 and corresponding conductive coupling structures 515, 517 facilitates electromagnetic interrogation of the dipolar gas within the cell cavity 508. In one example of operation, the clock generator 500 operates with the signal generator 602 transmitting alternating current (AC) TX signals at full transmission power at various frequencies within a defined band around a suspected quantum absorption frequency at which the transmission efficiency of the vapor cell 505 is minimal (absorption is maximal). For example, the quantum absorption frequency associated with the dipolar water molecule is 183.31 GHz. When the system operates at the quantum frequency, a null or minima is detected at the receiver via the lock-in amplifier 606, which provides the error signal ERR to the loop filter 604 for regulation of the TX output signal frequency via the control output CO signal provided to the signal generator 602. The rotational quantum frequency of the dipolar molecule gas in the vapor cell cavity 508 is generally stable with respect to time (does not degrade or drift over time), and is largely independent of temperature and a number of other variables.

[0028] In one embodiment, the signal generator 602 initially sweeps the transmission output frequency through a band known to include the quantum frequency of the cell 505 (e.g., transitioning upward from an initial frequency below the suspected quantum frequency, or initially transitioning downward from an initial frequency above the suspected quantum frequency, or other suitable sweeping technique or approach). The transceiver 600 monitors the received energy via the input 638 coupled with (e.g., electrically connected to) the second conductive coupling structure 525 in order to identify the transmission frequency associated with peak absorption by the gas in the cell cavity 508 (e.g., minimal reception at the receiver). Once the quantum absorption frequency is identified, the loop filter 604 moves the source signal generator transmission frequency close to that absorption frequency (e.g., 183.31 GHz), and modulates the signal at a very low frequency to regulate operation around the null or minima in the transmission efficiency representing the ratio of the received energy to the transmitted energy. The loop filter 604 provides negative feedback in a closed loop operation to maintain the signal generator 602 operating at a TX frequency corresponding to the quantum frequency of the cavity dipolar molecule gas.

[0029] In steady state operation, the lock-in amplifier 606 and the loop filter 604 maintain the transmitter frequency at the peak absorption frequency of the cell gas. In one version, the loop filter 604 provides proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control using a derivative of the frequency error as a control factor for lock-in detection and closed loop regulation. At the bottom of the null in a transmission coefficient curve, the derivative is zero and the loop filter 604 provides the derivative back as a direct current (DC) control output signal CO to the signal generator 602. This closed loop operates to keep the signal generator transmission output frequency at the peak absorption frequency of the cell gas using lock-in differentiation based on the RX signal received from the cell 508. The REF CLK signal from the signal generator 602 is the TX signal clock and can be provided to other circuitry such as frequency dividers and other control circuits requiring use of a clock.

[0030] Modifications are possible in the described embodiments, and other embodiments are possible, within the scope of the claims.