Skip to the content


MEMS | Hysitron, Inc.
MEMS | Hysitron, Inc.

Quantitative Nanomechanical and Nanotribological Characterization of MEMS 

The performance, repeatability, and reliability of microelectromechanical systems depend on the combined mechanical and tribological response of the individual materials comprising the device. As design processes become more complex, the ability to quantitatively measure and modify mechanical properties is required for designing new MEMS devices and shorten design timelines.  The physical dimensions of materials used in MEMS devices allow bulk mechanical properties to be used as a starting point from which to work, but large variations can be observed over the nanoscale to microscale due to microstructure differences, residual stress, and surface/edge driven effects. Additionally, mechanical and tribological properties of thin films and small structures are oftentimes strongly affected by their processing history, such as deposition method, temperature, pressure, and etchant exposure. Considering the surface properties are frequently the determining factor in the performance of MEMS devices, quantitative nanomechanical and nanotribological characterization is critical for continued MEMS development. 

MEMS Nanoindentation

Nanoindentation is a rapid means of obtaining quantitative nanoscale hardness and modulus values for materials used in MEMS devices. The ability to obtain properties with a high spatial resolution allows a direct mechanical characterization of thin films in a configuration representative of the devices final design. Additionally, nanoindentation techniques can be used to perform stiffness and fracture resistance characterization of compliant MEMS structures. Hybrid nanomechanical testing techniques, such as combining nanoindentation and electrical measurements, provides insight into electrical contact resistance evolution of micro contacts.  Hysitron’s suite of in-situ nanomechanical testing techniques provides a comprehensive understanding of nanoscale mechanical properties to engineer the next level of MEMS performance and device reliability.

MEMS Tribology

Motion at the microscale poses significant challenges when designing MEMS devices. Measuring, understanding, and optimizing the relationship between adhesion, friction, and wear is an important element of MEMS performance and reliability. Hysitron’s tribological testing equipment provides quantitative measurements of nanoscale to microscale wear performance, friction characterization, and surface adhesive forces. These techniques are enabling scientists and engineers to understand tribological phenomena and develop novel coatings, lubricants, and surface treatments for enhanced MEMS functionality and durability. 

 Test Equipment for MEMS Characterization