Reducing stiction in microelectromechanical systems by rough nanometer-scale films grown by atomic layer deposition

Riikka Puurunen (Corresponding Author), Ari Häärä, Heini Saloniemi, James Dekker, Markku Kainlauri, Harri Pohjonen, Tommi Suni, Jyrki Kiihamäki, Eero Santala, Markku Leskelä, Hannu Kattelus

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Atomic layer deposition (ALD) can be used to grow pinhole-free nanometer-thin conformal inorganic films at low temperatures, making it of interest for many applications in MEMS (microelectromechanical systems). Stiction during device operation remains one of the mechanisms leading to permanent failure of operating silicon-based MEMS. This work investigated whether stiction in MEMS could be decreased by applying rough thin inorganic ALD films. Test structures based on the cantilever-beam-array (CBA) method were fabricated and coated with 2–50 nm thick ALD layers varying in chemical nature and roughness: Al2O3, TiO2, MoN and Ta(Al)N. Smooth ALD films (AFM rms roughness below or equal to ca. 0.5 nm) were not observed to decrease stiction markedly. Crystalline films with roughness in the nanometer range (AFM rms ca. 1–3 nm) decreased stiction, resulting in a decrease of adhesion energy by up to four orders of magnitude as compared to Si and other smooth films. On the basis of this work, rough crystalline nanoscale ALD films are candidates for anti-stiction layers in MEMS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)240-245
    JournalSensors and Actuators A: Physical
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
    Event16th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems, Transducers’11
    - Beijing, China
    Duration: 5 Jun 20119 Jun 2011


    This work was carried out within the ALEBOND Tekes project (Dnro 3544/31/07) and partly belongs to the Center of Excellence in Atomic Layer Deposition by the Academy of Finland.


    • aluminum coatings
    • atomic layer deposition
    • cantilever beam array
    • MoN
    • stiction
    • titanium dioxide


    Dive into the research topics of 'Reducing stiction in microelectromechanical systems by rough nanometer-scale films grown by atomic layer deposition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this