Date: 10 Aug 2012

Stiction Failure in Microswitches Due to Elasto-Plastic Adhesive Contacts

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Abstract

Undesirable stiction, which results from the contact between surfaces, is a major failure mode in micro-switches. Indeed the adhesive forces can become so important that the two surfaces remain permanently glued, limiting the life-time of the MEMS. This is especially true when the contact happens between surfaces where elasto-plastic asperities deform permanently until the surfaces reach plastic accommodation, increasing the surface forces. To predict this behavior, a micro adhesive-contact model is developed, which accounts for the surfaces topography evolutions during elasto-plastic contacts. This model can be used at a higher scale to study the MEMS behavior, and thus its life-time. The MEMS devices studied here are assumed to work in a dry environment. In these operating conditions only the Van der Waals forces have to be considered for adhesion. For illustration purpose, an electrostatic-structural analysis is performed on a micro-switch. To determine the degree of plasticity involved, the impact energy of the movable electrode at pull-in is estimated. Thus the maximal adhesive force is predicted using the developed model.