Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Alex A. Volinsky, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jose L. F. Porteiro, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Craig Lusk, Ph.D.


stress analysis, Stoney’s equation curvature analysis, regularization, noise reduction


Development of thin films has allowed for important improvements in optical, electronic and electromechanical devices within micrometer length scales. In order to grow thin films, there exist a wide variety of deposition techniques, as each technique offers a unique set of advantages. The main challenge of thin film deposition is to reach smallest possible dimensions, while achieving mechanical stability during operating conditions (including extreme temperatures and external forces, complex film structures and device configurations). Silicon carbide (SiC) is attractive for its resistance to harsh environments, and the potential it offers to improve performance in several microelectronic, micro-electromechanical, and optoelectronic applications. The challenge is to overcome presence of high defect densities within structure of SiC while it is grown as a crystalline thin film. For this reason is important to monitor levels of residual stress, inherited from such grown defects, and which can risk the mechanical stability of SiC- made thin film devices.

Stoney's equation is the theoretical foundation of the curvature method for measuring thin film residual stress. It connects residual film stress with substrate curvature through thin plates bending mechanics. Important assumptions and vii simplifications are made about the film-substrate system material properties, dimensions and loading conditions; however, accuracy is reduced upon applying such simplifications. In recent studies of cubic SiC growth, certain Stoney's equation assumptions are violated in order to obtain approximate values of residual stress average. Furthermore, several studies have proposed to expand the scope of Stoney's equation utility; however, such expansions demand of more extensive substrate deflection measurements to be made, before and after film deposition.

The goal of this work is to improve the analysis of substrate deflection data, obtained by mechanical profilometry, which is a simple and inexpensive technique. Scatter in deflection data complicates the use of simple processes such as direct differentiation or polynomial fitting. One proposed method is total variation regularization of differentiation process; and results are promising for the adaptation of mechanical profilometry for complete measurement of all components of non-uniform substrate curvature.