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Electrothermally activated paraffin microactuators

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2 Author(s)
Carlen, Edwin T. ; Intellisense Corp., Wilmington, MA, USA ; Mastrangelo, C.H.

A new family of electrothermally activated microactuators that can provide both large displacements and forces, are simple to fabricate, and are easily integrated with a large variety of microelectronic and microfluidic components are presented. The actuators use the high volumetric expansion of a sealed, surface micromachined patch of paraffin heated near its melting point to deform a sealing diaphragm. Two types of actuators have been fabricated using a simple three mask fabrication process. The first device structure consists of a 9 μm thick circularly patterned paraffin layer ranging in diameter from 400 to 800 μm all covered with a 4-μm-thick metallized p-xylylene sealing diaphragm. All fabricated devices produced a 2.7-μm-peak center deflection, consistent with a simple first order theory. The second actuator structure uses a constrained volume reservoir that magnifies the diaphragm deflection producing consistently 3.2 μm center diaphragm deflection with a 3-μm-thick paraffin actuation layer. Microactuators were constructed on both glass and silicon substrates. The actuators fabricated on glass substrates used between 50-200 mW of electrical power with response times ranging between 30-50 ms. The response time for silicon devices was much faster (3-5 ms) at the expense of a larger electrical power (500-2000 mW)

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 3 )