This paper reports on experimental and computational investigations into the thermal performance of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) as a function of the pressure of the surrounding gas. High spatial resolution Raman thermometry was used to measure the temperature profiles on electrically heated, polycrystalline silicon bridges that are nominally 10 μm wide, 2.25 μm thick, and either 200 or 400 μm long in nitrogen atmospheres with pressures ranging from 0.05 to 625 Torr. Finite element modeling of the thermal behavior of the MEMS bridges is performed and compared to the experimental results. Noncontinuum gas effects are incorporated into the continuum finite element model by imposing temperature discontinuities at gas-solid interfaces that are determined from noncontinuum simulations. The results indicate that gas-phase heat transfer is significant for devices of this size at ambient pressures but becomes minimal as the pressure is reduced below 5 Torr. The model and experimental results are in qualitative agreement, and better quantitative agreement requires increased accuracy in the geometrical and material property values.

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