The safe, secure and reliable application of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices requires knowledge about the distribution in material and mechanical properties of the small-scale structures. A new testing program at Sandia is quantifying the strength distribution using polysilicon samples that reflect the dimensions of critical MEMS components. The strength of polysilicon fabricated at Sandia's Microelectronic Development Laboratory was successfully measured using samples 2.5 microns thick, 1.7 microns wide with lengths between 15 and 25 microns. These tensile specimens have a freely moving hub on one end that anchors the sample to the silicon die and allows free rotation. Each sample is loaded in uniaxial tension by pulling laterally with a flat tipped diamond in a computer-controlled nanoindenter. The stress-strain curve is calculated using the specimen cross section and gage length dimensions verified by measuring against a standard in the SEM.
David A. LaVan,
Thomas E. Buchheit,
"Strength of polysilicon for MEMS devices", Proc. SPIE 3880, MEMS Reliability for Critical and Space Applications, (18 August 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.359366; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.359366