NSTI Nanotech 2009

Nanocomposite Contact Material for MEMS Switches

C. Ding, N.C. MacDonald
University of California, Santa Barbara, US

Keywords: nanocomposite, contact, MEMS switch, NST, reliability, bulk, Titanium, Titania


This work reports the development of a nanostructured composite contact material for improving the contact reliability of MEMS switches. The nanocomposite material was integrated into a bulk titanium MEMS (BT-MEMS) switch which was fabricated using a sacrificial layer free (SLF) processing technique. Above 15 billion cold contact cycles were achieved without adhesion failure. This novel nanocomposite contact material is based on filling nano-structured titania (NST) with metals. The NST is formed by oxidizing e-beam evaporated titanium thin film in diluted hydrogen peroxide solution. The fabrication process for nanostructured titania was reported at MRS 2005, and bulk micromachining of Ti substrates was introduced in the work of Aimi. This paper shows a novel method to combine the NST with sputtered metals to form NST-Metal composite contact material. With this material we achieved a high roughness (~30nm) and hardness (~3GPa) of the contact surfaces which were measured using AFM and nanoindenter respectively. Finally this paper shows how to integrate this new composite contact material into BT-MEMS switches for reliability test. Contact contamination was investigated using Auger system, and contamination mechanism is discussed
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