We report a fabrication technology for 3D air-core inductors for small footprint and very-high-frequency power conversions. Our process is scalable and highly generic for fabricating inductors with a wide range of geometries and core shapes. We demonstrate spiral, solenoid, and toroidal inductors, a toroidal transformer and inductor with advanced geometries that cannot be produced by wire winding technology. The inductors are embedded in a silicon substrate and consist of through-silicon vias and suspended windings. The inductors fabricated with 20 and 25 turns and 280-350 μm heights on 4-16 mm2 footprints have an inductance from 34.2 to 44.6 nH and a quality factor from 10 to 13 at frequencies ranging from 30 to 72 MHz. The air-core inductors show threefold lower parasitic capacitance and up to a 140% higher-quality factor and a 230% higher-operation frequency than silicon-core inductors. A 33 MHz boost converter mounted with an air-core toroidal inductor achieves an efficiency of 68.2%, which is better than converters mounted with a Si-core inductor (64.1%). Our inductors show good thermal cycling stability, and they are mechanically stable after vibration and 2-m-drop tests.
- MEMS inductor
- Very high frequency