Characterization and Fatigue of the Converse Piezoelectric Effect in PZT Films for MEMS Applications
A measurement setup for the detailed study of the transverse piezoelectric coefficient e31,f in the converse (actuator) mode was developed. It allows the assessment of the piezoelectric stress in thin films on silicon cantilevers and provides for a correlation of this stress with large and small signal responses to ferroelectric polarization and dielectric response, both as a function of slowly sweeping electric field. This test is important for the understanding of piezoelectric thin films in microelectromechanical systems. The method is illustrated at hand of sol-gel lead-zirconate-titanate (PZT) thin films, and verified also with AlN and AlN-ScN alloy thin films. A 1-μm thick, sol-gel derived PZT(53/47) gradient-free sample showed a response of −18.3 C/m2 at 100-kV/cm electric field. Reliability tests of PZT thin films were carried out with the same setup in an accelerated manner. The piezoelectric activity did not degrade significantly up to 109 unipolar pulses at 100 kHz with an amplitude of −150 kV/cm. The increase in leakage toward the end of the cycles was explained by a thermal runaway effect.