Silicon as a Mechanical Material
KURT E. PETERSEN, MEMBER, IEEE
Abstract-Single-crystal silicon is being increasingly employed in a variety of new commercial products not because of its well-established electronic properties, but rather because of its excellent mechanical properties. In addition, recent trends in the engineering literature indicate a growing interest in the use of silicon as a mechanical material with the ultimate goal of developing a broad range of inexpensive, batch-fabricated, high-performance sensors and transducers which are easily interfaced with the rapidly proliferating microprocessor. This review describes the advantages of employing silicon as a mechanical material, the relevant mechanical characteristics of silicon, and the processing techniques which are specific to micromechanical structures. Finally, the potentials of this new technology are illustrated by numerous detailed examples from the literature. It is clear that silicon will continue to be aggressively exploited in a wide variety of mechanical applications complementary to its traditional role as an electronic material. Furthermore, these multidisciplinary uses of silicon will significantly alter the way we think about all types of miniature me chanical devices and componenta
IN THE SAME WAY that silicon has already revolutionized
the way we think about electronics, this versatile material is now in the process of altering conventional perceptions of
miniature mechanical devices and components [ 1]. At least
eight firms now manufacture and/or market silicon-based pressure transducers [ 2] (first manufactured commercially over 10
years ago), some with active devices or entire circuits integrated on the same silicon chip and some rated up to 10 000 psi.
Texas Instruments has been marketing a thermal point head
[ 3] in several computer terminal and plotter products in which the active printing...