Microscale materials testing using MEMS actuators

M. A. Haque, M. T.A. Saif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Small size scale and high resolutions in force and displacement measurements make MEMS actuators appropriate for micromechanical testing. In this paper, for the first time, we present methodologies for uniaxial tensile and cantilever bending testing of both micrometer- and submicrometer-scale freestanding specimens using MEMS actuators. We also introduce dry fabrication processes for the specimens. The methodologies allow freestanding single or multilayered thin-film specimens to be fabricated separately from the MEMS actuators. For the uniaxial tension test, tensile forces are applied by lateral comb drive actuators capable of generating a total load of 383 μN at 40 V with resolutions on the order of 3 nN. A similar actuator is used in the bending test, with load resolution of 58 nN and spring constant of 0.78 N/m. The tensile testing methodology is demonstrated with the testing of a 110-nm-thick freestanding aluminum specimen. The cantilever bending experiment is performed on a 100-nm-thick aluminum specimen. The experimental setups can be mounted in a SEM (and also in a TEM after modifications for tensile testing) for in situ observation of materials behavior under different environmental conditions. Remarkable strengthening is observed in all the specimens tested compared to their bulk counterparts in both tensile and bending experiments. Experimental results highlight the potential of MEMS actuators as a new tool for materials research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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