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A microdevice was specifically designed to characterize the static and dynamic friction and adhesion characteristics of sidewall contact interfaces of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The microdevice was fabricated by surface micromachining and tested under conditions that accurately mimic those of typical MEMS contacts. The developed experimental scheme enables the direct measurement of the critical normal force at the instant of surface separation and the friction force at the onset of sliding. Additional capabilities include evaluation of the dynamic friction behavior, measurement of the electrical characteristics across the contact interface, and characterization of the tribological response under impact contact loading. The microdevice can operate over a wide range of normal forces and different environmental conditions. Because the design is independent of process environment, the microdevice can be used to study the effects of different surface treatments and variations in fabrication process steps on the tribological properties of MEMS contact interfaces. Characteristic results of static and dynamic friction behaviors, electrical contact resistance, and response to dynamic impact loading illustrate the experimental capabilities and versatility of the designed microdevice.