Adhesion and pull-off forces for polysilicon MEMS surfaces using the sub-boundary lubrication model Academic Article uri icon


  • Miniature devices including MEMS and the head disk interface in magnetic storage often include very smooth surfaces, typically having root-mean-square roughness, of the order of 10 nm or less. When such smooth surfaces contact, or come into proximity of each other, either in dry or wet environments, then strong intermolecular (adhesive) forces may arise. Such strong intermolecular forces may result in unacceptable and possibly catastrophic adhesion, stiction, friction and wear. In the present paper, a model termed sub-boundary lubrication (SBL) adhesion model is used to calculate the adhesion forces, and an elastic-plastic model is used to calculate the contact forces at typical MEMS interfaces. Several levels of surface roughness are investigated representing polished and as-deposited polysilicon films that are typically found in MEMS. The SBL adhesion model reveals the significance of the surface roughness on the adhesion and pull-off forces as the surfaces become smoother. The validity of using the SBL adhesion model to estimate the pull-off forces in miniature systems is further supported by direct comparison with experimental pull-off force measurements performed on silicon and gold interfaces. Finally, the significance of the interfacial forces as relate to the reliability of MEMS interfaces is discussed.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Suh, A. Y., & Polycarpou, A. A.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Suh, AY||Polycarpou, AA

publication date

  • January 2003