Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineering researchers demystify fatigue failure in polysilicon used in MEMS devices

11.11.2002


The success of many advanced technologies that use devices such as sensors and actuators, including gyroscopes and optical devices, depends on microscopic components called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices made of polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon). Researchers at Case Western Reserve University report in the November 8 issue of Science that miniature micron-sized polysilicon laboratory specimens subjected to cyclic tension/compression loading undergo fatigue, and could ultimately fail as a result of damage produced by the compressive cycles, rather than from moisture-assisted stress corrosion cracking. This information, they say, could assist MEMS developers to mitigate fatigue failure in MEMS devices that experience significant mechanical stress during operation.

The Science article ("Fatigue Failure in Polysilicon: It’s Not Due to Simple Stress Corrosion Cracking") was written by Harold Kahn, Research Associate Professor in the department of materials science and engineering; Roberto Ballarini, Professor in the department of civil engineering and a lead researcher on the project; Arthur Heuer, University Professor and Kyocera Professor of Ceramics in the department of materials science and engineering; and Justin Bellante, a recent BS/MS graduate of materials science and engineering.

Polysilicon, CWRU researchers say, is a manufactured thin film consisting of silicon crystallites that is made in a microfabrication laboratory using chemical vapor deposition. The films are associated with rough surfaces that result from the plasma etching used in the final stages of MEMS processing. The researchers speculate that under compressive loading, these surfaces come into contact, and their wedging action produces microcracks that grow during subsequent tension and compression cycles.



"Over the past few years there has been a debate about the roles that moisture and mechanical stress play in the fatigue failure of polysilicon devices," said Ballarini. "Some research groups claim that polysilicon fatigue is associated with stress corrosion cracking. This failure mechanism is associated with the propagation of a sharp crack under an applied stress too low for immediate catastrophic failure and in the presence of a corrosive environment like humid air. Our research shows that polysilicon under constant stress is not susceptible to stress corrosion, but the fatigue strength is strongly influenced by the ratio of compression to tension stresses experienced during each cycle. The failure originates from microcracks and those cracks likely originate on the surface of the polysilicon."

Polysilicon MEMS structures, Heuer explained, contain many raised areas along their surfaces that act as stress concentrators and could result in microcracks when exposed to tensile or compressive stresses. "The microcracks then extend from the surface into the miniaturized structures, weakening the material and causing failure," he said.

To study the fatigue of polysilicon, Kahn and Bellante used on-chip test structures that rely on electrostatic actuation (the attraction to each other of two plates of opposite electrical charge), rather than an external testing machine.

"By using both DC and AC voltage sources," Kahn said, "we varied the ratio of compressive to tensile stresses in the cycle, and by using high frequencies, we could subject specimens to more than a billion cycles in less than a day."

"MEMS, the use of miniaturized devices for high tech products, is becoming more and more popular in modern technology," said Heuer. "This research tells us to be mindful of the manner in which we create the surfaces of polysilicon chips so that devices that experience significant mechanical stresses like gyroscopes and optical devices can be rendered less susceptible to fatigue failure."

Marci E. Hersh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cwru.edu/

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Cementless fly ash binder makes concrete 'green'
19.06.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Ground-breaking discoveries could create superior alloys with many applications
19.06.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018 | Life Sciences

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>