Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Engineering - Materials Engineering


Materials Engineering


Richard N. Savage


The bottom-up processing techniques used for making Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices can produce material properties different from bulk processing. The material properties must be evaluated with the process parameters used and for changes in the process parameters. The mechanical properties are needed to design MEMS devices. A material of interest for MEMS devices is nickel titanium (NiTi) shape memory alloy (SMA) because of the high work output (~107 J/m3). This thesis will focus on the fabrication of thin film NiTi by DC magnetron sputtering deposition and testing mechanical properties of the fabricated films by nanoindentation. Thin film NiTi SMA was successfully created by DC magnetron sputtering deposition and high vacuum annealing in the Microfabrication Laboratory at California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo. Characterization of the thin film by nanoindentation produced an elastic modulus of the thin film NiTi SMA with the developed processing parameters was 67.9 GPa with a hardness of 2.1 GPa. The measured thin film NiTi elastic modulus was greater than bulk NiTi of 40 GPa because of the residual stress from the deposition process. The shape memory effect was evaluated at the nanometer scale by measuring the nanoindents before and after thermally inducing a phase transformation. A maximum indentation depth recovery of 58% was measured upon the heat induced martensitic phase transformation. The low recovery was attributed to the high strain of 8% induced by the Berkovich tip. The effects of deposition power on the NiTi as-sputtered film stress, elastic modulus, hardness, and electrical conductivity were evaluated. At the highest sputtering deposition power of 450 Watts, an elastic modulus of 186 GPa with a hardness of 8.3 GPa was measured by nanoindentation. An increase in deposition power increased the residual film compressive stress, elastic modulus, and hardness while the electrical resistivity increased. The mechanisms for the measured properties are discussed in this thesis.