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Proceedings Paper

Thermal actuator improvements: tapering and folding
Author(s): Michael J. Sinclair; Kerwin Wang
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Paper Abstract

Electrothermal actuation is not a popular technology for today’s MEMS transducers due to its relatively slow response and large appetite for power. The large displacement with high force and low voltage gives reason to try to improve thermal actuator’s operating characteristics. This paper describes some improvements to thermal actuators, mainly in increased output energy per actuator chip area and area utilization. The devices presented here are a variation of the chevron thermal actuator - one with two sets of thermally expanding beams pushing at a slight angle on either side of a suspended shuttle, causing it to be displaced parallel to the substrate. One improvement is to taper the thermal expansion beams so they exhibit a higher strain energy, allowing a larger thermal input power and hence more output mechanical power per beam. Another improvement is to move (fold) both sets of thermal beams to the same side of the shuttle so all are exerting force on the same side. The thermal expansion beams cause compression against the shuttle and work against one or two orthogonal cold beams in tension to produce an output force and displacement. This resembles a pseudo-bimorph array with the exception of having far fewer non-force-producing beams to bend.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 April 2003
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 5116, Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS, (24 April 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.499129
Show Author Affiliations
Michael J. Sinclair, Microsoft Corp. (United States)
Kerwin Wang, Univ. of Washington (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5116:
Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS
Jung-Chih Chiao; Vijay K. Varadan; Carles Cané, Editor(s)

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