Multiphysics design and implementation of a microsystem for displacement-controlled tensile testing of nanomaterials

Maria F. Pantano, Rodrigo A. Bernal, Leonardo Pagnotta, Horacio D. Espinosa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


MEMS-based tensile testing devices are powerful tools for mechanical characterization of nanoscale materials. In a typical configuration, their design includes an actuator to deliver loads/displacements to a sample, and a sensing unit for load measurement. The sensing unit consists of a flexible structure, which deforms in response to the force imposed to the sample. Such deformation, while being necessary for the sensing function, may become a source of instability. When the sample experiences a load drop, as it may result from yield, necking or phase transitions, the elastic energy accumulated by the sensor can be released, thus leading to loss of the displacement-controlled condition and dynamic failure. Here, we report a newly-developed MEMS testing system where the sensor is designed to constantly keep its equilibrium position through an electrostatic feedback-control. We show design, implementation, and calibration of the system, as well as validation by tensile testing of silver nanowires. The implemented system allows capture of softening events and affords significant improvement on the resolution of stress–strain curves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-560
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 9 2015


  • Feedback control
  • In-situ
  • MEMS
  • Mechanical characterization
  • Nanowires
  • SEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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