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Low dielectric constant (k) materials qualified for interconnect integration of high speed devices are required in the microelectronic industry. The introduction of nanopores into the dielectrics reduces their k but also deteriorates their mechanical properties. An accurate measurement technique for determining the mechanical properties of such thin fragile low-k films is needed. We report on a designed piezoelectric twin-transducer detector for accurate and nondestructive characterization of mechanical properties for porous low-k films by the laser-generated surface acoustic wave. Experimental results of several low-k films demonstrate that influences from the fabricating processes and material treatments on Young’s elastic modulus can be sensitively detected by this technique. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.