Room-Temperature Fabrication of Anodic Tantalum Pentoxide for Low-Voltage Electrowetting on Dielectric (EWOD)

Y. Li, W. Parkes, L.I. Haworth, A.W.S. Ross, J T M Stevenson, A.J. Walton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a robust anodic Ta2O5 dielectric as an alternative insulator for fabricating low-voltage electrowetting on dielectric (EWOD) systems. Previously reported low-voltage EWOD technologies require high-temperature processes (> 435 degrees C), which unlike this room temperature technology, are not compatible with standard copper and aluminum integrated circuit interconnect technology as well as polymer-based substrates. The anodized Ta2O5 forms a uniform pinhole free layer with a surface roughness (R-a) of 0.6 nm. This robust film enables an ultrathin amorphous FluoroPolymer layer to be employed to reduce the EWOD driving voltage to 13 V Both sub-20-nm Teflon-AF and CYTOP layers have been successfully coated on top of Ta2O5 with good adhesion. Applying voltages of 6-15 V significantly modified the contact angles of droplets in air on these samples (121 degrees to 81 degrees on Teflon-AF at 13 V and 114 degrees to 95 degrees on CYTOP at 6 V). Successful 14-V EWOD manipulation involving droplets being dispensed from a reservoir, their movement, followed by merging them together has been demonstrated using devices using a Teflon-AF + Ta2O5 dielectric.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1488
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Amorphous FluoroPolymer (aFP)
  • anodic Ta2O5
  • CMOS
  • electrowetting
  • electrowetting on dielectric (EWOD)
  • high-kappa
  • dielectrics
  • microfluidics

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