The Myths, Misconceptions, and Mysteries of Structural Silicon
Professor Christopher L. Muhlstein,
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
and the Materials Research Institute,
Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, PA
Silicon-based electromechanical components, including microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), have the potential to revolutionize a wide range of civilian and military applications. This technological importance has motivated extensive characterization of the mechanical performance of silicon films at ambient and elevated temperatures. In spite of these fundamental studies and its common use in MEMS, silicon structural films are profoundly misunderstood and expectations for their performance are often misguided. In this presentation, we will critically evaluate the strength, toughness, and degradation of silicon films. The general trends will be discussed and will be used to illustrate how some of the commonly held beliefs about the performance of structural silicon and silicon-based MEMS are inaccurate.
Christopher L. Muhlstein received his BS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (1994), a MS in Metallurgy from the Georgia Institute of Technology (1996), and his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (2002). In September 2002, he joined the faculty in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Pennsylvania State University as an assistant professor. Dr. Muhlstein’s research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of fracture and fatigue in bulk and thin film materials. His recent research has focused on the fracture and fatigue behavior of structural films such as silicon, silicon carbide, and nickel with the notable contribution of developing an understanding of the fatigue susceptibility of silicon thin films via a reaction-layer mechanism. Dr. Muhlstein is a member of? the ??? and Keramos honor societies and is an NSF CAREER award recipient.