SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2001

Surface Topology and Fatigue in Si MEMS Structures


This paper presents the results of an experimental study of surface topology evolution that leads to crack nucleation and propagation in silicon MEMS structures. Following an initial description of the unactuated surface topology and nanoscale microstructure of polysilicon, the micromechanisms of crack nucleation and propagation are elucidated via in situ atomic force microscopy examination of cyclically actuated comb-drive structures fabricated from polysilicon. It is found that the surface of the polycrystalline silicon MEMS undergoes topological changes that lead to elongation of surface features at the highest tensile point on the surface. A smoothing trend is also observed after a critical stress level is reached.

Author Information

Allameh, SM
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Gally, B
, Natick, MA
Brown, S
, Natick, MA
Soboyejo, WO
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
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Developed by Committee: E08
Pages: 3–15
DOI: 10.1520/STP10976S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5458-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2889-7