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Piezoelectric MEMS (PiezoMEMS) Patent Portfolio: Thin Film PZT Deposition, Development, Device Designs, and Testing

The US Army seeks a partner to license and commercialize its PiezoMEMS patent portfolio centered around PZT thin film-based PiezoMEMS technology with superior performance through the use of developed, tested, and patented fabrication methods, device designs, and testing methods

For over two decades, the Army has invested in PZT thin film technology to develop MEMS devices for communication, navigation and radar systems, MEMS sensors, ultra-low power logic, and millimeter-scale robotics. The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) utilizes chemical solution deposition (CSD) and sputtered PZT in an industry compatible state-of-the-art 150mm diameter wafer-line cleanroom facility for its current R&D activities. Using this facility, ARL has developed novel deposition, etch and patterning methods, device designs, and integrated testing methods for PZT thin films to enable a new generation of MEMS device applications.

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Lead Zirconate Titanate (PZT): Enabling Piezoelectric material
PZT thin film for Switch and Relay Technologies
The Technology: 

While electrostatic actuation is established in MEMS devices, in many cases the cost of small electrode gap spacing and large driving voltages requires specialized high voltage charge pump circuits. In contrast, piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems (PiezoMEMS) offer the opportunity for high sensitivity sensors and large displacement actuators operating at voltages ranging from a few millivolts to the low tens of volts. Lead zirconate titanate, or PZT, has the advantage of combining three different material properties: high value and tunable dielectric constant; a pyroelectric effect; and one of the highest available piezoelectric coefficients along with a very high electromechanical coupling coefficient. With these advantages, there is growing commercial interest to integrate piezoelectric films into MEMS devices.

  • Strong piezoelectric effect: The electromechanical interaction between the mechanical and the electrical state delivers low power consumption and high-speed response
  • Broad Applications: Large displacements (sub micron to millimeter) at high speeds enable a wide range of applications from radio frequency MEMS switches to millimeter-scale robotics
  • CMOS Circuit Compatibility: PZT actuators can be driven with voltages ranging from a few millivolts to tens of volts. Allows easy integration with conventional CMOS circuits and other nominally battery-powered sources.
  • Manufacturable:  Current deposition methods include CSD and sputtering, both of which can be easily integrated into a semiconductor fabrication facility
The Opportunity: 

  • Collection of 18 issued patents and patent applications that
    cover piezoMEMS manufacturing processes and various device architectures are available for licensing. > (Click Here to Access Patent List)  <
  • Potential for collaboration with lab researchers