Inexpensive, Compact Deep Reactive Ion Etching System for Small Substrates

Technology #17374

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Mitchell Hsing
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Parker Gould
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Professor Martin Schmidt
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
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Managed By
Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Processing System for Small Substrates

PCT Patent Application Filed

Processing System for Small Substrates

US Patent Pending


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, and
  • 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 4 micron/min
  • Precise etching profile
  • Low energy consumption
  • Savings on raw material