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Fracture strength of micro- and nano-scale silicon components

Frank W. DelRio's picture

Silicon devices are ubiquitous in many micro- and nano-scale technological applications, most notably microelectronics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).  Despite their widespread usage, however, issues related to uncertain mechanical reliability remain a major factor inhibiting the further advancement of device commercialization.  In particular, reliability issues related to the fracture of MEMS components have become increasingly important given continued reductions in critical feature sizes coupled with recent escalations in both MEMS device actuation forces and harsh usage conditions.  In this review, the fracture strength of micro- and nano-scale silicon components in the context of MEMS is considered.  An overview of the crystal structure and elastic and fracture properties of both single-crystal silicon (SCS) and polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) is presented.  Experimental methods for the deposition of SCS and polysilicon films, fabrication of fracture-strength test components, and analysis of strength data are also summarized.  SCS and polysilicon fracture strength results as a function of processing conditions, component size and geometry, and test temperature, environment, and loading rate are then surveyed and analyzed to form overarching processing-structure-property-performance relationships.  Future studies are suggested to advance our current view of these relationships and their impacts on the manufacturing yield, device performance, and operational reliability of micro- and nano-scale silicon devices.

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