Technologies
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WARF: P01026US

Micromachined Scanning Thermal Probe


INVENTORS -

Yogesh Gianchandani, Mo-Huang Li, Julius Wu

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a micromachined scanning thermal probe that provides 100 times the temperature-sensing resolution of current Wollaston wire probes.
OVERVIEWScanning thermal probes hold promise for many applications, including high-resolution temperature mapping (e.g., for ULSI circuit diagnostics), topographical mapping, photothermal absorption spectroscopy and subsurface imaging. Previous thermal probes have employed a variety of temperature-sensing techniques; for example, the commercially available Wollaston probe senses temperature by reading a resistance change in a bent wire. Due to the high themal conductivity of metals, however, wire-based probes may place a greater thermal load on samples than probes micromachined from other materials.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a micromachined scanning thermal probe with polyimide as its structural material and an embedded thin-film thermocouple as its temperature-sensing element. Probes are micromachined using a low-temperature, multimask process that can be easily integrated into a CMOS fabrication sequence, and contain a built-in scanning tip that is exposed by a unique flip-over assembly step at the end of processing.
APPLICATIONS
  • High-resolution temperature mapping
  • Thermal properties mapping
  • Photothermal absorption spectroscopy
  • Biological diagnostics
KEY BENEFITS
  • Provides 100 times the temperature-sensing resolution of current Wollaston wire probes
  • Fabrication process allows batch-manufacture of probes at very low cost.
  • Polyimide’s low thermal conductivity increases the probe’s temperature sensitivity, while greatly reducing the thermal load on samples.
  • High spatial resolution and extremely low spring constant make the probe well suited for scanning soft materials.
  • Polyimide’s mechanical flexibility allows flip-over assembly, eliminating the need to dissolve the substrate wafer under the probe.
  • May be used to make thermal conductance measurements on a wide range of materials, including heat-insulating materials (e.g. photoresists) and soft materials (e.g., biological specimens)
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at mstaudt@warf.org or 608-960-9845.
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Since its founding in 1925 as the patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF has been working with business and industry to transform university research into products that benefit society. WARF intellectual property managers and licensing staff members are leaders in the field of university-based technology transfer. They are familiar with the intricacies of patenting, have worked with researchers in relevant disciplines, understand industries and markets, and have negotiated innovative licensing strategies to meet the individual needs of business clients.