In this work we discuss the design and fabrication of a cantilever that may be actuated by utilizing the martensite to austenite phase transformation of a sputtered thin film of equiatomic NiTi shape memory alloy (SMA). The cantilever devices were fabricated on a silicon wafer using standard micro fabrication techniques, and may therefore be applicable to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switch or actuator applications. This paper details the development of a co-sputtering process to yield a SMA film with controllable composition of Ni50Ti50 and transformation temperature around 60° C. Shape memory effects were characterized using Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), for which we demonstrated martensite-austenite phase change at 57° C for 1–3 um films, annealed at 600° C. We used wafer stress versus temperature measurements as additional confirmation for the repeatable measurement of reversible phase transformation peaking at 73° C upon heating. Up to 62 MPa was available for actuation during the thermally induced phase change. After exploring multiple approaches to a frontside wafer release process, we were successful in patterning and fabricating 10 um wide freestanding Ni50Ti50 cantilevers.

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