method for characterizing the mechanical stress induced in silicon technology is described. Analysis by scanning Kelvin probe force microscopy (SKPM) coupled with finite-element (FE) mechanical strain simulations is performed. The SKPM technique detects variations in the semiconductor work function due to strain influences on the band gap. This technique is then used to analyze the strain induced by shallow trench isolation processes for electrical isolation. The SKPM measurements agree with the FE simulations qualitatively.