In this work we discuss the design and fabrication of NiTi on Pt bimorph cantilever arrays that may be actuated by utilizing the martensite to austenite phase transformation of a sputtered thin film of equiatomic NiTi shape memory alloy (SMA). The cantilever devices were fabricated on a silicon wafer using standard micro fabrication techniques, and may therefore be applicable to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switch or actuator applications. This paper details the development of a co-sputtering process to yield a SMA film with controllable composition of Ni50Ti50 and transformation temperature around 60 °C. Shape memory effects were characterized and verified using Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), which demonstrated a martensite-austenite phase change near 60 °C for a co-sputter deposited film onto a Si wafer at 600 °C for in-situ crystallization.
We used wafer stress versus temperature measurements as additional confirmation for the repeatable measurement of reversible phase transformation which completed by 80 °C upon heating. Up to 900 MPa completely reversible stress change was available for actuation during the thermally induced phase change. The tightest curling devices were based on a 600 nm NiTi film on 20 nm Pt and were actuated between a 200 μm curl at 25 °C and flat states when heated beyond 70 °C. Using a 532 nm (green), 440 mW laser, we also characterized actuation times of NiTi on Pt cantilever actuators from 4–240 milliseconds using optical intensities ranging from 2–24 W/cm2.