Thermomechanical response of bare and Al2 O3 -nanocoated Au/Si bilayer beams for microelectromechanical systems

Journal Article

We present results on the thermomechanical behavior of bare and nanocoated gold/polysilicon (Au/Si) bilayer cantilever beams for microelectromechanical system applications. The cantilever beams have comparable thicknesses of the Au and Si layers and thus experience significant out-of-plane curvature due to a temperature change. The experiments focus on the inelastic behavior of the bilayer beams due to thermal holding and thermal cycling. In uncoated Au/Si beams, thermal holding directly after release or thermal cycling both lead to a curvature decrease as a function of time or cycle number, respectively. The drop in curvature during thermal cycling or thermal holding in uncoated beams was not accompanied by a change in the slope of the thermoelastic curvature-temperature relationship. The absolute change in curvature depends on the temperature and the holding time. When holding or cycling to a temperature of 175°C, the curvature change in uncoated beams is minimal for hold times up to 4500 min or 15,000 cycles. When holding or cycling to temperatures of 200 or 225°C, the curvature in uncoated beams drops by a factor of three for hold times up to 4500 min or 15,000 cycles. The surface structure induced by long-term holding of uncoated beams shows grooving at the grain boundaries while the surface structure induced by cycling of uncoated beams shows consolidation of the grain boundaries. The Au/Si beams with a conformal 40-nm atomic layer deposition Al2O3 coating show a considerably different response compared to identical Au/Si bare beams subjected to the same thermal histories. The coating completely suppresses decreases in curvature when the beams are held at 225°C for 4500 min. On the contrary, the coating does not always suppress thermal ratcheting when the beam is cycled from a low temperature to 225°C. In the coated beams, the drop in curvature due to thermal cycling was accompanied by a change in the thermoelastic slope of the curvature-temperature relationship. Negligible microstructural changes were detected on the Al2O3-coated Au surface after holding or cycling. The results are discussed in light of potential deformation mechanisms and a simple analysis linking the mismatch strain between the layers to the curvature in the beams.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gall, K; Hulse, M; Dunn, ML; Finch, D; George, SM; Corff, BA

Published Date

  • 2003

Published In

  • Journal of Materials Research

Volume / Issue

  • 18 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1575 - 1587