The measurement of mechanical parameters by means of microcantilever structures offers a reliable and accurate alternative to traditional methods, especially when dealing with thin films, which are extensively used in microfabrication technology and nanotechnology. In this work, MEMS-based piezoresistive cantilevers were realized and used for the determination of Young’s modulus and residual stress of thin titanium dioxide (TiO2) deposited by sputtering from a TiO2 target using an RF plasma discharge. Films were deposited at different thicknesses, ranging from a few to a hundred nanometers. Dedicated silicon microcantilevers were designed through an optimization of geometrical parameters with the development of analytical as well as numerical models. Young’s modulus and residual stress of sputtered TiO2 films were assessed by using both mechanical characterization based on scanning profilometers and piezoresistive sensing elements integrated in the silicon cantilevers. Results of MEMS-based characterization were combined with the tribological and morphological properties measured by micro-scratch test and XRD analysis.
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