A highly effective, micron-scale micro heat barrier structure and process for manufacturing a micro heat barrier based on semiconductor and/or MEMS fabrication techniques. The micro heat barrier has an array of non-metallic, freestanding microsupports with a height less than 100 microns, attached to a substrate. An infrared reflective membrane (e.g., 1 micron gold) can be supported by the array of microsupports to provide radiation shielding. The micro heat barrier can be evacuated to eliminate gas phase heat conduction and convection. Semi-isotropic, reactive ion plasma etching can be used to create a microspike having a cusp-like shape with a sharp, pointed tip (<0.1 micron), to minimize the tip's contact area. A heat source can be placed directly on the microspikes. The micro heat barrier can have an apparent thermal conductivity in the range of 10.sup.-6 to 10.sup.-7 W/m-K. Multiple layers of reflective membranes can be used to increase thermal resistance.