March 22, 2005

MEMS reliability focus of Sandia short course

Techniques remove barriers to mainstream acceptance

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Manufacturers, inventors, and researchers challenged by MEMS reliability issues should consider signing up for one of the upcoming “MEMS reliability short courses” offered by Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque May 10-12 and Dec. 13-15.

The 2-1/2-day, hands-on short course at Sandia — a world leader in surface micromachining technologies — offers a complete review of reliability issues, tools, and techniques in the increasingly important field.

Says Sandia reliability manager Fred Sexton, “Being unable to demonstrate the reliability of a new microsystems technology is a key barrier to acceptance in mainstream applications. This course provides the basic information needed to understand factors adversely affecting performance. This enables a design-for-reliability approach that can eliminate many concerns, and provides a methodology for mitigating those effects that remain.”

The course begins with a discussion of reliability issues in microtechnologies compared to those encountered in the day-to-day macro world. Current research in 16 distinct failure mechanisms are presented, leading to a discussion of tools and methods to ‘design-in’ reliability.

Topics studied include design practices and modeling tools; use of basic structures such as beams, columns, and members; and the effects of inertia, mechanical interference, stress, and buckling on performance. An in-depth study of bulk and thin films properties establishes a solid foundation for understanding the physics of failure in micron-scale structural materials.

A detailed look at the effects of surface morphology and environment on adhesion, friction, and wear is described. Use of thin-film organic coatings to mitigate friction and adhesion between surfaces completes this area. The student is exposed to a balanced mix of in-class study and hands-on laboratory exercises.

The cost for the course is $1,600.

For more complete information, go to or contact Amanda Lopez at

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia media contact: Neal Singer,, (505) 845-7078