Butterfly Network has been granted a patent for a method of forming an ultrasonic transducer device. The method involves forming a patterned metal electrode layer, an insulation layer, and planarizing the insulation layer. The upper layer of the metal electrode serves as a chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) stop layer with slower CMP removal rate than the insulation layer. GlobalData’s report on Butterfly Network gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Butterfly Network, Doppler ultrasound imaging was a key innovation area identified from patents. Butterfly Network's grant share as of September 2023 was 42%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Method of forming an ultrasonic transducer device

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Butterfly Network Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11766696B2) describes a method for forming an ultrasonic transducer device. The method involves several steps, including forming a patterned metal electrode layer over a substrate, forming an insulation layer over the electrode layer, and planarizing the insulation layer. The upper layer of the electrode is made of an electrically conductive material that serves as a chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) stop layer, with a CMP removal rate significantly slower than that of the insulation layer.

The upper layer of the electrode can be made of either ruthenium (Ru) or tantalum (Ta), but the patent specifically mentions ruthenium as the preferred material. The lower layer of the electrode is made of titanium (Ti). The insulation layer is made of SiO2 and is initially formed to a thickness of about 400 nanometers (nm) to about 900 nm before planarizing.

In addition to the electrode and insulation layers, the method also involves forming a membrane support layer over the electrode layer, etching a cavity in the support layer, and bonding a membrane to the support layer to seal the cavity. The membrane is made of doped silicon and has a thickness of about 2 microns (µm) to about 10 µm. The support layer is made of SiO2 and has a thickness of about 100 nm to about 300 nm.

Furthermore, the method includes the formation of a bottom cavity layer between the electrode layer and the support layer. This layer consists of a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) SiO2 layer and an atomic layer deposition (ALD) Al2O3 layer. The CVD SiO2 layer has a thickness of about 10 nm to about 30 nm, while the ALD Al2O3 layer has a thickness of about 20 nm to about 40 nm.

The patent also describes an ultrasonic transducer device based on the method. The device includes a patterned metal electrode layer, a planarized insulation layer, a cavity defined in a membrane support layer, and a membrane bonded to the support layer. The upper layer of the electrode has a CMP removal rate significantly slower than that of the insulation layer.

Overall, this patent presents a method and device for forming an ultrasonic transducer with specific materials and layer thicknesses. The use of a CMP stop layer and the precise control of layer thicknesses contribute to the functionality and performance of the transducer device.

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GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.