Mechanically probing time-dependent mechanics in metallic MEMS
The reliability of metallic micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) depends on time-dependent deformation such as creep. To this end, a purely mechanical experimental methodology for studying the time-dependent deformation of free-standing microbeams has been developed. It is found most suitable for the investigation of creep due to the simplicity of sample handling and preparation and setup design, whilst maximizing long term stability and displacement resolution. The methodology entails the application of a constant deflection to a µm-sized free-standing aluminum cantilever beam for a prolonged period of time. After this load is removed, the deformation evolution is immediately recorded by acquiring surface height profiles through confocal optical profilometry. Image correlation and an algorithm based on elastic beam theory are applied to the full-field beam profiles to yield the tip deflection as a function of time. The methodology yields the tip deflection as function of time with ~3 nm precision.
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