Free-standing microstructures such as cantilevers, membranes or microchannels are building blocks of microfluidic systems and MEMS. As a complement to silicon, the large family of polymers offers many opportunities for micro and nanotechnologies. Their low temperature processing and the planarizing properties of many resists is a definitive advantage for system integration, paving the way to complete lab-on-chips. In this article, we investigate a fabrication process of polymeric free standing structures based on the lamination of SU-8, a thick epoxy photoresist. Our motivation is the hybrid integration of polymer microfluidic or MEMS components with silicon chips (e.g., integrated circuits or sensors). Compared to rigid substrates used in more conventional SU-8/SU-8 bonding process, the flexible photosensitive films used within this lamination technique allows a more homogeneous and reliable bonding at low pressure and temperature, and a 3D fabrication with an excellent level-to-level alignment. A parametric optimization of the lamination process is presented. The fabrication of a leakage-free 3D microfluidic network is demonstrated by stacking up to five layers. A polyethylene terephtalate layer has been employed to easily release the SU-8 devices. We show that this release layer also significantly decrease the curvature of the substrate by 32% and the related residual stress in a 100 μm SU-8 layer by at least 10%. Finally, we briefly describe the hybrid integration of a silicon sensor in a microfluidic network as a direct application of our lamination process to the fabrication of lab-on-chips.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.