The mechanical strength of polysilicon films: Part 2. Size effects associated with elliptical and circular perforations

Ioannis Chasiotis, Wolfgang G. Knauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A systematic study of failure initiation in small-scale specimens has been performed to assess the effect of size scale on "failure properties" by drawing on the classical analysis of elliptically perforated specimens. Limitations imposed by photolithography restricted the minimum radii of curvature of the specimen perforations to one micron. By varying the radius of curvature and the size of the ellipses, the effects of domain size and stress concentration amplitude could be assessed separately to the point where the size of individual grains (∼0.3 μm) becomes important. The measurements demonstrate a strong influence of the domain size under elevated stress on the "failure strength" of MEMS scale specimens, while the amplitude, or the variation, of the stress concentration factor is less significant. In agreement with probabilistic considerations of failure, the "local failure strength" at the root of a notch clearly increases as the radius of curvature becomes smaller. Accordingly, the statistical scatter also increases with decreasing size of the (super)stressed domain. When the notch radius becomes as small as 1 μm the failure stress increases on average by a factor of two relative to the tension values derived from unnotched specimens. This effect becomes moderate for larger radii of curvature, up to a radius of 8 μm (25 times the grain size), for which the failure stress at the notch tip closely approaches the value of the tensile strength for un-notched tensile configurations. We deduce that standard tests, performed on micron-sized, non-perforated, tension specimens, provide conservative strength values for design purposes. In addition, a Weibull analysis shows for surface-micromachined specimens a dependence of the strength on the specimen length, rather than the surface area or volume, which implies that the sidewall geometry, dimensions and surface conditions can dominate the failure process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1572
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Failure strength
  • MEMS
  • Micronotches
  • Polysilicon
  • Specimen size effects
  • Weibull analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The mechanical strength of polysilicon films: Part 2. Size effects associated with elliptical and circular perforations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this