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The mechanical properties of the thin film materials used in RF-MEMS are crucial for the reliability and proper functioning of the devices. In this paper we study a large number of aluminum alloys as possible RF-MEMS thin film materials. The yield strength and creep properties are measured using nano-indentation. The results show that the mechanical properties of thin aluminum films can be improved substantially by alloying elements. Of the alloys studied in this paper, AlCuMgMn in particular seems quite promising as a thin film material for RF MEMS, having both high yield strength and little creep. Using X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy, the observed effects are partly explained.
A technology platform is described for the integration of low-loss inductors, capacitors, and MEMS capacitors on a high-resistivity Si substrate. Using this platform the board space area taken up by e.g. a DCS PA output impedance matching circuit can be reduced by 50%. The losses of passive components that are induced by the semi-conducting Si substrate can effectively be suppressed using a combination of surface amorphisation and the use of poly crystalline Si substrates. A MEM switchable capacitor with a capacitance switching factor of 40 and an actuation voltage of 5V is demonstrated. A continuous tuneable dual-gap capacitor is demonstrated with a tuning ratio of 9 using actuation voltages below 15V.
Manipulation of bio-fluids in microchannels faces many challenges in the development of lab-on-a-chip devices. We propose magnetically actuated artificial cilia which can propel fluids in microchannels. These cilia are magnetic films which can be actuated by an external magnetic field, leading to an asymmetric motion like that of natural cilia. The coupling between different physical mechanisms (magnetostatics, solid mechanics and fluid dynamics) is numerically established. In this work we quantify the flow through a microfluidic channel as a function of its geometry for a characteristic set of dimensionless parameters.
The reliability of coatings that are used in industrial applications critically depends on their mechanical properties. Nanoindentation and scratch testing are well-established techniques to measure some of these properties, namely the elastic modulus and hardness of coatings. In this paper, we investigate the possibility of also assessing the coating fracture toughness and the energy of adhesion between the coating and the substrate using indentation and scratch testing. Various existing and new methods are discussed, and they are illustrated by measurements on particle-filled sol-gel coatings on glass. All methods are based on the occurrence of cracking, and they are therefore only applicable to coating systems that act like brittle materials and exhibit cracking during indentation and scratching. The methods for determining the fracture toughness give comparable results, but the values still differ to within about 50%. The values of the adhesion energy obtained from different measurements are consistent, but it remains uncertain to which extent the obtained values are quantitatively correct. The results show that the methods used are promising, but more research is needed to obtain reliable quantitative results.
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