Self-assembly based on chromium/copper bilayers

Pawan Tyagi, Noy Bassik, Timothy G. Leong, Jeong Hyun Cho, Bryan R. Benson, David H. Gracias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


In this paper, we detail a strategy to self-assemble microstructures using chromium/copper (Cr/Cu) bilayers. Self-assembly was primarily driven by the intrinsic residual stresses of Cr within these films; in addition, the degree of bending could be controlled by changing the Cu film thickness and by introducing a third layer with either a flexible polymer or a rigid metal. We correlate the observed curvature of patterned self-assembled microstructures with those predicted by a published multilayer model. In the model, measured stress values (measured on the unpatterned films using a substrate curvature method) were utilized. We also investigated the role of two different sacrificial layers: 1) silicon and 2) water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol. Finally, a Taguchi design of experiments was performed to investigate the importance of the different layers in contributing to the stress-thickness product (the critical parameter that controls the curvature of the self-assembled microstructures) of the multilayers. This paper facilitates a deeper understanding of multilayer thin-film-based self-assembly and provides a framework to assemble complex microstructures, including tetherless self-actuating devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-791
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received December 14, 2008; revised March 25, 2009. First published July 6, 2009; current version published July 31, 2009. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant CMMI-0448816 and Grant DMR05-20491 and by The Johns Hopkins University–Applied Physics Laboratory Partnership Fund. Subject Editor R. R. A. Syms.


  • Microstructures
  • Self-assembly
  • Stress
  • Thin film


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