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... [continues]
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