Microsystem Technologies

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 47–54 | Cite as

Silicon micromachining in 25 wt% TMAH without and with surfactant concentrations ranging from ppb to ppm

Technical Paper


Tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) is one of the most commonly used anisotropic etchants in silicon wet bulk micromachining. It has outstanding etching characteristics such as compatibility with semiconductor processes and provides high etch selectivity between silicon and silicon dioxide. In this work, we have investigated the effect of surfactant concentration ranging from 20 ppb to 1000 ppm on the etching characteristics of 25 wt% TMAH for bulk micromachining of Si{100} and Si{110}. Triton X-100 with formula C14H22O(C2H4O)n, where n = 9–10, is used as surfactant. The major objective of this work is to determine the surfactant concentration at which the etch rate, etched surface morphology and convex corner undercutting are significantly affected. Undercutting length and etched depth are measured using 3D scanning optical microscope. Surface morphology of etched silicon samples are inspected using scanning electron microscope. The surfactant concentration below 100 ppb does not affect etching characteristics significantly, while the effect of surfactant concentration above 100 ppb is substantial on the undercutting at convex corners on Si{100} surface, etch rate and etched surface roughness of Si{110}. The etch rate and etched surface morphology of Si{100} are not influenced considerably when the surfactant is added into 25 wt% TMAH.



This work was supported by research grant from the Department of Science and Technology (Project No. SR/S3/MERC/072/2011) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR, Ref: 03(1320)/14/EMR-II), New Delhi, India.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MEMS and Micro/Nano Systems Laboratory, Department of PhysicsIndian Institute of Technology HyderabadHyderabadIndia

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