This research explores a new ATE (Automatic Testing Equipment) method for Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) devices. In this method, microscale aerodynamic drag force is generated on a movable part of a MEMS sensor from a micronozzle hole located a specific distance above the chip that will result in a measurable change in output. This approach has the potential to be generalized for the characterization of every MEMS device in mass production lines to test the functionality of devices rapidly and characterize important mechanical properties. The most important testing properties include the simultaneous application of controllable and non-invasive manipulative force, a single handler for multi-sensor, and non-contact characterization, which are relatively difficult to find with other contemporary approaches. Here we propose a custom-made sensing platform consisting of a microcantilever array interconnected to a data acquisition device to read the capacitive effects of each cantilever’s deflection caused by air drag force. This platform allows us to empirically prove the functionality and applicability of the proposed characterization method using airflow force stimuli. The results, stimulatingly, exhibited that air force from a hole of 5 µm radii located 25 µm above a 200 × 200 µm2
surface could be focused on a circular spot with radii of approximately 5 µm with surface sweep accuracy of <8 µm. This micro-size airflow jet can be specifically designed to apply airflow force on the MEMS movable component surface. Furthermore, it was shown that the generated air force range could be controlled from 20 nN to 60 nN, approximately, with a linear dependency on airflow ranging from 5 m/s to 20 m/s, which is from a 5 µm radius microhole air jet placed 400 µm above the chip. In this case-study chip, for a microcantilever with a length of 400 µm, the capacitance curve increased linearly from 28.2 pF to 30.5 pF with airflow variation from 5 m/s to 21 m/s from a hole. The resultant curve is representative of a standard curve for testing of the further similar die. Based on these results, this paper paves the way towards the development of a new non-contact, non-invasive, easy-to-operate, reliable, and relatively cheap air-based method for characterizing and testing MEMS sensors.
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