Fatigue initiation and failure of various microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is of significant importance as they gain widespread acceptance in sensors and electronics. This paper presents an approach for utilizing available experimental fatigue data to evaluate the fatigue lives of MEMS components. The approach is based on a phenomenological discrete material representation in which a domain is represented by a collection of rigid elements that interacts via springs along their boundaries. The principles of continuum damage mechanics are used to degrade the spring stiffnesses as brittle damage occurs when the domain is subjected to fatigue loading. The model utilizes experimental stress-life data for LIGA Ni to identify the material properties used in the model. The proposed model captures the statistical distribution of material properties and geometrical randomness of the microstructure commonly observed in a wide variety of MEMS. Consequently, simulations that account for the variability in fatigue life can be readily performed. The model is applied to a dog-bone-shaped specimen to evaluate the influence of material heterogeneity and material flaws on fatigue crack initiation life and scatter. The ability of the model to predict the fatigue life of different types of MEMS devices and loading conditions is also demonstrated by simulating the fatigue stress-life behavior of a MEMS resonator support beam.


Publisher retains content copyright.


beams (structures), brittleness, fatigue cracks, LIGA, micromechanical resonators

Date of this Version

January 2009



Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems 18,1 (2009) 119-28;


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.