Nanoscale elastic imaging of micro-electro-mechanical system based micro-mirrors

Bruce Altemus, Gajendra Shekhawat, Bai Xu*, Robert Geer, James Castracane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We present measurements of the nanoscale elastic properties of hinge structures supporting micro-mirror arrays using a new characterization technique called Ultrasonic Force Microscopy (UFM). This technique is based on Atomic Force Microscopy with ultrasonic excitation which provides a means of testing the elastic response at MHz frequencies. The simultaneous recording of topography with elastic imaging allows the elimination of any artifacts. In this report, we demonstrate that UFM can, achieve nano-scale elastic resolution to reveal mechanical stress induced changes as well as process induced material fatigue in the micro-mirror devices. The main aim of this study is polysilicon-based hinge structures that support the micro-mirror because they show the highest stress during mirror switching. Our results indicate that no significant structural and mechanical change of the polysilicon-based hinge support structure occurs even after more than 109 switching cycles. This method offers a non-destructive way to perform reliability characterization on MEMS devices. This technique developed will offer new opportunities for the evaluation of structural and mechanical integrity of MEMS devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001
EventReliability, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Oct 22 2001Oct 24 2001


  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
  • Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)
  • Ultrasonic Force Microscopy (UFM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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