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Vertical comb array microactuators

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2 Author(s)
Selvakumar, A. ; Input/Output Inc., Stafford, TX, USA ; Najafi, K.

A vertical actuator fabricated using a trench-refilled-with-polysilicon (TRiPs) process technology and employing an array of vertical oriented comb electrodes is presented. This actuator structure provides a linear drive to deflection characteristic and a large throw capability which are key features in many sensors, actuators and micromechanisms. The actuation principle and relevant theory is developed, including FastCap simulations for theoretical verification. Design simplifications have been suggested that enable one to use parallel plate analytical expressions which match simulation results with ∼5.6% error. Several actuators were designed and fabricated using the 7-mask TRiPs technology with calculated drive voltages as low as 45 V producing 10 μm of deflection. The actuators employed a mechanical structure that was 18 μm tall using a polysilicon layer 1.5 μm thick and occupying a total area of 750 μm by 750 μm. The actuators were successfully tested electrostatically and several microns of deflection were observed.

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 4 )