Tribology Letters

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 103-108

First online:

The influence of coating structure on micromachine stiction

  • J.G. Kushmerick
  • , M.G. Hankins
  • , M.P. de Boer
  • , P.J. Clews
  • , R.W. Carpick
  • , B.C. Bunker

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Stiction and friction in micromachines is commonly inhibited through the use of silane coupling agents such as 1H-, 1H-, 2H-, 2H-perfluorodecyltrichlorosilane (FDTS). FDTS coatings have allowed micromachine parts processed in water to be released without debilitating capillary adhesion occurring. These coatings are frequently considered as densely-packed monolayers, well-bonded to the substrate. In this paper, it is demonstrated that FDTS coatings can exhibit complex nanoscale structures, which control whether micromachine parts release or not. Surface images obtained via atomic force microscopy reveal that FDTS coating solutions can generate micellar aggregates that deposit on substrate surfaces. Interferometric imaging of model beam structures shows that stiction is high when the droplets are present and low when only monolayers are deposited. As the aggregate thickness (tens of nanometers) is insufficient to bridge the 2 μm gap under the beams, the aggregates appear to promote beam–substrate adhesion by changing the wetting characteristics of coated surfaces. Contact angle measurements and condensation figure experiments have been performed on surfaces and under coated beams to quantify the changes in interfacial properties that accompany different coating structures. These results may explain the irreproducibility that is often observed with these films.

thin films MEMS adhesion self-assembled monolayers FDTS