Surface micromachined structures with high aspect ratios are often utilized as sensor platforms in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices. These structures generally fail by stiction or adhesion to the underlying substrate during operation, or related initial processing. Such failures represent a major disadvantage in mass production of MEMS devices with highly compliant structures. Fortunately, most stiction failures can be prevented or repaired in a number of ways. Passive approaches implemented during fabrication or release include: (1) utilizing special low adhesion coatings and (2) processing with low surface energy rinse agents. These methods, however, increase both the processing time and cost and are not entirely effective. Active approaches, such as illuminating stiction-failed microstructures with pulsed laser irradiation, have proven to be very effective for stiction repair [1–5]. A more recent and promising method, introduced by Gupta et al. [6], utilized laser-induced stress waves to repair stiction-failed microstructures. This approach represents a logical extension of the laser spallation technique for debonding thin films from substrates [7–9]. The method transmits stress waves into MEMS structures by laser-irradiating the back side of the substrate opposite the stiction-failed structures. This paper presents an experimental study that compares the stress wave repair method with the thermomechanical repair method on identical arrays of stiction-failed cantilevers.

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