Residual stress can affect the performance of thin-film micromachined structures and lead to curling in cantilevers as well as distortion in the frequency of resonant devices. As the origin of residual stress is dependent on the fabrication processes, a nondestructive method for characterization of residual stress independent of processes conditions is desirable for supporting the design of microcantilever-based microsystems. In this paper we present a nondestructive characterization of the residual stress within composite microcantilever beams providing valuable insights toward
predicting their deflection profile after mechanical releasing from the substrate. The approach relies on the assumption of a linear gradient stress and a quadratic deflection profile across a composite microcantilever.