We use finite element analysis (FEA) methods to examine sensitivity to MEMS design variables, explore the effects of process variation, evaluate design rules, and to develop more focused Design of Experiment fab runs. Our FEA techniques, when applied concurrently with prototype development efforts, can reduce the number of process runs required to converge and verify a new MEMS design. We understand the subtleties of modeling microscale devices that would elude general FEA practitioners.
We strongly advocate combining simulation with measurements as the fastest path to development success. MEMS materials properties are highly dependent on process conditions, and so the traditional advantage of finite element analysis, i.e. purely simulation-driven design, is diminished without the inclusion of process-specific materials data.