Application of MEMS force sensors for in situ mechanical characterization of nano-scale thin films in SEM and TEM

M. A. Haque, M. T.A. Saif

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article


We present a novel tensile testing technique utilizing MEMS force sensors for in situ mechanical characterization of sub-micron scale freestanding thin films in SEM and TEM. Microfabrication techniques are used to cofabricate the thin film specimens with force sensors to produce the following unique features: (1) small setup size to fit in SEM and TEM for in situ experiments, (2) ability to measure tensile pre-stress in specimen, (3) alignment between specimen and applied loading axes with lithographic precision, (4) no extra gripping mechanism required, and (5) ability to measure creep strain in the material. The technique allows single or multilayers of materials that can be deposited/grown on silicon substrate to be tested. We demonstrate the technique by testing a 100 nm thick, 8.8 μm wide and 275 μm long freestanding aluminum specimen (average grain size about 50 nm) in situ inside an environmental SEM chamber, and present another setup for similar experiment in TEM. Experimental results strongly suggest that at this size scale: (1) elastic modulus does not change, (2) size effects on yield strength are pronounced (63 times the bulk pure aluminum yield stress), and (3) permanent strain hardening effect are absent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-245
Number of pages7
JournalSensors and Actuators, A: Physical
StatePublished - Apr 1 2002
EventTransducers'01 Eurosensors XV - Munich, Germany
Duration: Jun 10 2001Jun 14 2001



  • MEMS force sensor
  • Tensile testing
  • Thin film properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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