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Proceedings Paper

Tribological challenges in MEMS and their mitigation via vapor phase lubrication
Author(s): Michael T. Dugger
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Paper Abstract

MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) have become commercially successful in a number of niche applications. However, commercial success has only been possible where design, operating conditions, and materials result in devices that are not very sensitive to tribological effects. The use of MEMS in defense and national security applications will typically involve more challenging environments, with higher reliability and more complex functionality than required of commercial applications. This in turn will necessitate solutions to the challenges that have plagued MEMS since their inception - namely, adhesion, friction and wear. Adhesion during fabrication and immediately post-release has largely been resolved using hydrophobic coatings, but these coatings are not mechanically durable and do not inhibit surface degradation during extended operation. Tribological challenges in MEMS and approaches to mitigate the effects of adhesion, friction and wear are discussed. A new concept for lubrication of silicon MEMS using gas phase species is introduced. This "vapor phase lubrication" process has resulted in remarkable operating life of devices that rely on mechanical contact. VPL is also an effective lubrication approach for materials other than silicon, where traditional lubrication approaches are not feasible. The current status and remaining challenges for maturation of VPL are highlighted.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 May 2011
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 8031, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications III, 80311H (13 May 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.884509
Show Author Affiliations
Michael T. Dugger, Sandia National Labs. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8031:
Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications III
Thomas George; M. Saif Islam; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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