A process for forming a very thin suspended layer of piezoelectric material of thickness less than 10 microns. The device is made from a combination of GaAs and AlGaAs layers to form either a sensor or an electronic filter. Onto a GaAs substrate is epitaxially deposited a thin (1-5 micron) sacrificial AlGaAs layer, followed by a thin GaAs top layer. In one embodiment the substrate is selectively etched away from below until the AlGaAs layer is reached. Then a second selective etch removes the sacrificial AlGaAs layer, that has acted here as an etch stop, leaving the thin suspended layer of piezoelectric GaAs. In another embodiment, a pattern of small openings is etched through the thin layer of GaAs on top of the device to expose the sacrificial AlGaAs layer. A second selective etch is done through these openings to remove the sacrificial AlGaAs layer, leaving the top GaAs layer suspended over the GaAs substrate. A novel etchant solution containing a surface tension reducing agent is utilized to remove the AlGaAs while preventing buildup of gas bubbles that would otherwise break the thin GaAs layer.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with Government support under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.