Abstract

The effect of long-term contact on adhesion force between MEMS silicon surfaces is investigated. A test structure is developed that can initiate the contact between the two surfaces without actuation. Therefore, the surfaces may remain in contact for a long period of time. The contacting surfaces are separated using a thermal actuator and the adhesion force is determined utilizing FEM simulations. Freshly released and long-time stored devices were tested, and their adhesion force is determined. The test results show that the adhesion force for devices in contact for a long time is drastically larger than those with short-term contact. Adhesion force values as large as 2.9 μN for long-term contact and as small as 0.4 μN for fresh contact were measured. The large adhesion force associated with long-term contact is believed to be attributed to the formation of native oxide at contacting nano-asperities and formation of covalent bonds between the surfaces, requiring larger force to break the bonds.

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