This work explores the use of carbon-infiltrated carbon nanotube (CI-CNT) forests as a material for fabricating compliant MEMS devices. The impacts of iron catalyst layer thickness and carbon infiltration time are examined. An iron layer of 7nm or 10nm with an infiltration time of 30 minutes produces CI-CNT best suited for compliant applications. Average maximum strains of 2% and 2.48% were observed for these parameters. The corresponding elastic moduli were 5.4 GPa and 4.1 GPa, respectively. A direct comparison of similar geometry suggested CI-CNT is 80% more flexible than single-crystal silicon. A torsional testing procedure provided an initial shear modulus of about 5 GPa for the 7-nm, 30-min CI-CNT. The strain and elastic modulus values were used to design numerous functional devices which were then fabricated in CI-CNT. A series of compliant cell restraint mechanisms were developed, assessed, and revised. A passive restraint with no moving parts was found to be both the most effective design and the easiest design to produce economically. A refined version of the passive restraint has been released commercially. Another series of designed devices successfully demonstrates the implementation of CI-CNT LEM designs.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





Carbon nanotubes, CNTs, compliant mechanisms, microelectromechanical systems, MEMS, material properties, modulus, tensile strength, microbiology, cell restraints, torsion, LEMs, lamina emergent mechanisms, design, Walter C. Fazio