Standalone Tensile Testing of Thin Film Materials for MEMS/NEMS Applications
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The microelectronics industry has been consistently driven by the scaling roadmap, colloquially referred to as the Moore’s law. Consequently, during the past decades, integrated circuits have scaled down further. This shrinkage could have never been possible without the efficient integration and exploitation of thin film materials. Thin film materials, on the other hand, are the essential building blocks of the micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS). Utilization of thin film materials provides a unique capability of further miniaturizing electromechanical devices in micro- and nano-scale. These devices are the main components of many sensors and actuators that perform electrical, mechanical, chemical, and biological functions. In addition to the wide application of thin film materials in micro- and nano-systems, this class of materials has been historically utilized in optical components, wear resistant coatings, protective and decorative coatings, as well as thermal barrier coatings on gas turbine blades. In some applications, thin film materials are used mainly as the load-bearing component of the device. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are the example of these applications. Thin film materials carry mechanical loads in thermal actuators, switches and capacitors in RF MEMS, optical switches, micro-mirror hinges, micro-motors, and many other miniaturized devices. In these applications, one of the main criteria to choose a specific material is its ability to perform the mechanical requirements. Therefore, a clear understanding of the mechanical behavior of thin film materials is of great importance in these applications. This understanding helps better analyze the creep in thermal actuators (Tuck et al., 2005; Paryab et al., 2006), to investigate the fatigue of polysilicon (Mulhstein et al., 2001; Shrotriya et al., 2004) and metallic micro-structures (Eberl et al., 2006; Larsen et al., 2003), to scrutinize the relaxation and creep behavior of switches made of aluminum (Park et al., 2006; Modlinski et al., 2004) and gold films (Gall et al., 2004), to study the hinge memory effect (creep) in micro-mirrors (Sontheimer, 2002), and to address the wear issues in micro-motors. (van Spengen, 2003) In some other applications, the thin film material is not necessarily performing a mechanical function. However, during the fabrication process or over the normal life, the device experiences mechanical loads and hence may suffer from any of the mechanical failure issues. Examples of these cases are the thermal fatigue in IC interconnects (Gudmundson & Wikstrom, 2002), strain ratcheting in passivated films (Huang et al., 2002; He et al., 2000), the fracture and delamination of thin films on flexible substrates (Li & Suo, 2006), the fracture of porous low-k dielectrics (Tsui et al., 2005), electromigration (He et al., 2004), the chip-package-interaction (CPI) (Wang & Ho, 2005), and thin film buckling and delamination (Sridhar et al., 2001). In order to address the above-mentioned failure issues and to design a device that has mechanical integrity and material reliability, an in-depth knowledge of the mechanical behavior of thin film materials is required. This information will help engineers integrate materials and design devices that are mechanically reliable and can perform their specific functions during their life-time without any mechanical failure. In addition to the tremendous industrial and technological driving force that was mentioned earlier, there is a strong scientific motivation to study the mechanical behavior of thin film materials. The mechanical behavior of thin film structures have been known to drastically differ from their bulk counterparts. (Xiang, 2005) This discrepancy that has been referred to as the length-scale effect has been one of the main motivations in the scientific society to study the mechanical behavior of thin film materials. In order to provide fundamental mechanistic understanding of this class of materials, old problems and many of the known physical laws in materials science and mechanical engineering have to be revisited from a different and multidisciplinary prospective. These investigations will not be possible unless a concrete understanding of the mechanical behavior of thin film materials is achieved through rigorous experimental and theoretical research in this area.
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Arash Tajik, Hamid Jahed (2012). Standalone Tensile Testing of Thin Film Materials for MEMS/NEMS Applications. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12085
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