Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS) is an emerging technology with demonstrated potential for a wide range of applications including sensors and actuators for medical, industrial, consumer, military, automotive and instrumentation products. Failure analysis (FA) of MEMS is critically needed for the successful design, fabrication, performance analysis and reliability assurance of this new technology. Many devices have been examined using techniques developed for integrated circuit analysis, including optical inspection, scanning laser microscopy (SLM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), focused ion beam (FIB) techniques, atomic force microscopy (AFM), infrared (lR) microscopy, light emission (LE) microscopy, acoustic microscopy and acoustic emission analysis. For example, the FIB was used to microsection microengines that developed poor performance characteristics. Subsequent SEM analysis clearly demonstrated the absence of wear on gear, hub, and pin joint bearing surfaces, contrary to expectations. Another example involved the use of infrared microscopy for thermal analysis of operating microengines. Hot spots were located, which did not involve the gear or hub, but indicated contact between comb structures which drive microengines. Voltage contrast imaging proved useful on static and operating MEMS in both the SEM and the FIB and identified electrostatic clamping as a potentially significant contributor to failure mechanisms in microengines. This work describes MEMS devices, FA techniques, failure modes, and examples of FA of MEMS.

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