Mechanics of thin films and microdevices

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This paper discusses the latest developments in nanomechanics of thin films with applications in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and microelectronics. A precise methodology that combines in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) surface measurements of uniaxially tension-loaded MEMS specimens and strain analysis via digital image correlation (DIC) achieving 0.1 pixel spatial displacement resolution is presented. By this method, the mechanical deformation of thin films was obtained in areas as small as 4 × 4 μm and with 1-2 nm spatial displacement resolution supporting the derivation of interrelations between the material microstructure and the local mechanical properties. This methodology provided for the first time the values of Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio from specimens with cross-sections as small as 2 × 6 μm. The value of properties derived via AFM/DIC demonstrated very limited scatter compared to indirect mechanical property measurement methods. The application of this technique on nonuniform geometries resolved nanoscale displacement and strain fields in the vicinity of ultrasharp elliptical perforations achieving very good agreement with finite element models. Furthermore, the stochastic and deterministic material failure properties described via Weibull statistics and fracture toughness, respectively, are illustrated for brittle thin films. Failure initiated at notches was found to be influenced by the local radius of curvature and the stress concentration factor. Precise fracture toughness values for MEMS materials were obtained from MEMS specimens with atomically sharp cracks. These studies were supported by measurements of displacements/strains conducted for the first time in the vicinity of mathematically sharp cracks via the AFM/DIC method. The method can be applied to a variety of thermomechanical reliability problems in multilayered thin films and inhomogeneous/anisotropic materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-188
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Device and Materials Reliability
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Fracture toughness
  • Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
  • Nanomechanical measurements
  • Poisson's ratio
  • Young's modulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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