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Journal article

Electron Microscopy Mechanical Testing of Silicon Nanowires Using Electrostatically Actuated Tensile Stages

Two types of electrostatically actuated tensile stages for in situ electron microscopy mechanical testing of 1-D nanostructures were designed, microfabricated, and tested. Testing was carried out for mechanical characterization of silicon nanowires (SiNWs). The bulk micromachined stages consist of a combdrive actuator and either a differential capacitive sensor or a clamped-clamped beam force sensor. High-aspect-ratio structures (height/gap = 20) were designed to increase the driving force of the geometrically optimized actuator and the sensitivity of the capacitive sensor. The actuator stiffness is kept low to enable high tensile force to be exerted in the specimen rather than in the suspensions of the comb drive. Individual SiNWs were mounted on the devices by in situ scanning electron microscopy nanomanipulation, and their tensile properties were determined to demonstrate the device capability. The phosphorus-doped SiNWs, which were grown in a bottom-up manner by the vapor-liquid-solid process, show an average Young's modulus of (170.0 +/- 2.4) GPa and a tensile strength of at least 4.2 GPa. Top-down electroless chemically etched SiNWs, with their long axis along the [100] direction, show a fracture strength of 5.4 GPa.

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