The continuous miniaturization trend has been driving the typical feature size of MEMS towards the nanoscale. As a result, conventional mechanical testing principles based on optical microscopy have reached their limit. Due to the higher resolution imaging capabilities of SEMs, in-situ SEM micromechanical testing enables direct quantification of mechanical and electro-mechanical properties of MEMS and NEMS.
Application Example: In-Plane Cyclic Testing of a MEMS Shuttle
The shown MEMS-based electrostatic microactuator uses an electrostatic, comb-drive actuator to move a central shuttle that is suspended by four flexures. By in-plane cyclic testing of the MEMS shuttle along is axis of motion, the mechanical properties of the flexures can be quantified.Application Example: In-Plane Nanomechanical Testing of 3D Metallic NanopillarsBecause of the high surface-to-volume ratio, nanostructures are ideal for the creation of high resolution sensors, such as gas detectors. Using a combination of nanolithography and electroplating, 3D metallic nanostructures can be fabricated. Both the resulting material properties and the nanostructure geometry have large variations. For this reason, in-situ SEM nanomechanical testing is used to quantify the mechanical properties of 3D nanostructures. Image courtesy: Prof. Bradley Nelson, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Application Example: Piezoresistive Microcantilever Array Testing
Piezoresistive microcantilever arrays have been developed for various applications such as gas sensors, memory storage devices and nanolithography. In-situ nanomechanical testing is used to automatically quantify the mechanical properties (stiffness, linearity, breaking force) as well as the electromechanical properties (resistance change vs. load) of each cantilever in the array. Image courtesy: NTB, Switzerland