Design of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) requires characterization of the materials involved. However, because the structural dimensions found in MEMS are so small, measurement of even the most basic properties is challenging. This work focuses on techniques for determining the strength of MEMS materials. Several approaches are presented and compared. Results for the failure strength of a common brittle MEMS material are discussed. It is shown that a probabilistic approach must be used to understand the results, and that the apparent strength of this material depends considerably on the mode of deformation (tension vs. bending). The probabilistic approach suggests a dependence in strength on both specimen size and deformation mode. Issues such as load alignment and difficulty in determining specimen geometry are also considered
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