The initial run-in and long-term drift of the adhesive force between polycrystalline silicon MEMS sidewalls

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Abstract

In this paper we measure the evolution of adhesion between two polycrystalline silicon sidewalls of a microelectromechanical adhesion sensor during three million contact cycles. We execute a series of AFM-like contact force measurements with comparable force resolution, but using real MEMS multi-asperity sidewall contacts mimicking conditions in real devices. Adhesion forces are measured with a very high sub-nanonewton resolution using a recently developed optical displacement measurement method. Measurements are performed under well-defined, but different, low relative humidity conditions. We found three regimes in the evolution of the adhesion force. (I) Initial run-in with a large of cycle-to-cycle variability, (II) Stability with low variability, and (III) device-dependent long term drift. The results obtained demonstrate that although a short run-in measurement shows stabilization, this is no guarantee for long-term stable behavior. Devices performing similarly in region II, can drift very differently afterwards. The adhesion force drift during millions of cycles is comparable in magnitude to the adhesion force drift during initial run-in. The boundaries of the drifting adhesion forces are reasonably well described by an empirical model based on random walk statistics. This is useful knowledge when designing polycrystalline silicon MEMS with contacting surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalMicrosystem Technologies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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