Preparation of wafer-level glass cavities by a low-cost chemical foaming process (CFP)†
A novel foaming process—chemical foaming process (CFP)—using foaming agents to fabricate wafer-level micro glass cavities including channels and bubbles was investigated. The process consists of the following steps sequentially: (1) shallow cavities were fabricated by a wet etching on a silicon wafer; (2) powders of a proper foaming agent were placed in a silicon cavity, named ‘mother cavity’, on the etched silicon surface; (3) the silicon cavities were sealed with a glass wafer by anodic bonding; (4) the bonded wafers were heated to above the softening point of the glass, and baked for several minutes, when the gas released by the decomposition of the foaming agent in the ‘mother cavity’ went into the other sealed interconnected silicon cavities to foam the softened glass into cylindrical channels named ‘daughter channels’, or spherical bubbles named ‘son bubbles’. Results showed that wafer-level micro glass cavities with smooth wall surfaces were achieved successfully without contamination by the CFP. A model for the CFP was proposed to predict the final shape of the glass cavity. Experimental results corresponded with model predictions. The CFP provides a low-cost avenue to preparation of micro glass cavities of high quality for applications such as micro-reactors, micro total analysis systems (μTAS), analytical and bio-analytical applications, and MEMS packaging.