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Design of large deflection electrostatic actuators

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3 Author(s)
J. D. Grade ; Iolon Inc., San Jose, CA, USA ; H. Jerman ; T. W. Kenny

Electrostatic, comb-drive actuators have been designed for applications requiring displacements of up to 150 μm in less than 1 ms. A nonlinear model of the actuator relates the resonant frequency and the maximum stable deflection to the actuator dimensions. A suite of experiments that were carried out on deep reactive ion etched (DRIE), single-crystal silicon, comb-drive actuators confirm the validity of the model. Four actuator design improvements were implemented. First, a folded-flexure suspension consisting of two folded beams rather than four and a U-shaped shuttle allowed the actuator area to be cut in half without degrading its performance. Second, the comb teeth were designed with linearly increasing lengths to reduce side instability by a factor of two. Third, the folded-flexure suspensions were fabricated in an initially bent configuration, improving the suspension stiffness ratio and reducing side instability by an additional factor of 30. Finally, additional actuation range was achieved using a launch and capture actuation scheme in which the actuator was allowed to swing backward after full forward deflection; the shuttle was captured and held using the backs of the comb banks as high-force, parallel-plate actuators.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 3 )