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Material and Process Development of Thin Film Shape Memory Alloy for MEMS Actuator

[+] Author Affiliations
Cory R. Knick, Christopher J. Morris

US Army Research Laboratory, Adelphi, MD

Paper No. SMASIS2015-8801, pp. V001T01A001; 6 pages
  • ASME 2015 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems
  • Volume 1: Development and Characterization of Multifunctional Materials; Mechanics and Behavior of Active Materials; Modeling, Simulation and Control of Adaptive Systems
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, September 21–23, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Aerospace Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5729-8
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


In this work we discuss the design and fabrication of a cantilever that may be actuated by utilizing the martensite to austenite phase transformation of a sputtered thin film of equiatomic NiTi shape memory alloy (SMA). The cantilever devices were fabricated on a silicon wafer using standard micro fabrication techniques, and may therefore be applicable to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switch or actuator applications. This paper details the development of a co-sputtering process to yield a SMA film with controllable composition of Ni50Ti50 and transformation temperature around 60° C. Shape memory effects were characterized using Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), for which we demonstrated martensite-austenite phase change at 57° C for 1–3 um films, annealed at 600° C. We used wafer stress versus temperature measurements as additional confirmation for the repeatable measurement of reversible phase transformation peaking at 73° C upon heating. Up to 62 MPa was available for actuation during the thermally induced phase change. After exploring multiple approaches to a frontside wafer release process, we were successful in patterning and fabricating 10 um wide freestanding Ni50Ti50 cantilevers.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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