Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Victor M Bright

Second Advisor

Scott J Bunch

Third Advisor

Y C Lee


This research focuses on the development of a novel, low-temperature, CMOS compatible, atomic-layer-deposition (ALD) enabled NEMS fabrication process for the development of ALD Tungsten (WALD) NEMS devices. The devices are intended for use in CMOS/NEMS hybrid systems, and NEMS based micro-processors/controllers capable of reliable operation in harsh environments not accessible to standard CMOS technologies. The majority of NEMS switches/devices to date have been based on carbon-nano-tube (CNT) designs. The devices consume little power during actuation, and as expected, have demonstrated actuation voltages much smaller than MEMS switches. Unfortunately, NEMS CNT switches are not typically CMOS integrable due to the high temperatures required for their growth, and their fabrication typically results in extremely low and unpredictable yields. Thin-film NEMS devices offer great advantages over reported CNT devices for several reasons, including: higher fabrication yields, low-temperature (CMOS compatible) deposition techniques like ALD, and increased control over design parameters/device performance metrics, i.e., device geometry. Furthermore, top-down, thin-film, nano-fabrication techniques are better capable of producing complicated device geometries than CNT based processes, enabling the design and development of multi-terminal switches well-suited for low-power hybrid NEMS/CMOS systems as well as electromechanical transistors and logic devices for use in temperature/radiation hard computing architectures. In this work several novel, low-temperature, CMOS compatible fabrication technologies, employing WALD as a structural layer for MEMS or NEMS devices, were developed. The technologies developed are top-down nano-scale fabrication processes based on traditional micro-machining techniques commonly used in the fabrication of MEMS devices. Using these processes a variety of novel WALD NEMS devices have been successfully fabricated and characterized. Using two different WALD fabrication technologies two generations of 2-terminal WALD NEMS switches have been developed. These devices have functional gap heights of 30-50 nm, and actuation voltages typically ranging from 3-5 Volts. Via the extension of a two terminal WALD technology novel 3-terminal WALD NEMS devices were developed. These devices have actuation voltages ranging from 1.5-3 Volts, reliabilities in excess of 2 million cycles, and have been designed to be the fundamental building blocks for WALD NEMS complementary inverters. Through the development of these devices several advancements in the modeling and design of thin-_lm NEMS devices were achieved. A new model was developed to better characterize pre-actuation currents commonly measured for NEMS switches with nano-scale gate-to-source gap heights. The developed model is an extension of the standard field-emission model and considers the electromechanical response, and electric field effects specific to thin-film NEMS switches. Finally, a multi-physics FEM/FD based model was developed to simulate the dynamic behavior of 2 or 3-terminal electrostatically actuated devices whose electrostatic domains have an aspect ratio on the order of 10􀀀3. The model uses a faux-Lagrangian finite difference method to solve Laplaces equation in a quasi-statatically deforming domain. This model allows for the numerical characterization and design of thin- _lm NEMS devices not feasible using typical non-specialized BEM/FEM based software. Using this model several novel and feasible designs for fixed-fixed 3-terminal WALD NEMS switches capable for the construction of complementary inverters were discovered.