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In this paper, we analyze the effect of misalignment in electrostatic combdrives, and describe a fabrication technology that minimizes misalignment in vertical electrostatic combdrives by creating self-aligned, vertically staggered electrodes. Self-alignment of the interdigitated electrodes simplifies fabrication and minimizes failures due to electrostatic instability, thus enabling fabrication of narrow-gap, high-force actuators with high yield. The process is based on deep-reactive ion etching (DRIE) of buried-patterned silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers. Measurements on fabricated combdrives show relative misalignment of less than 0.05 μm. This corresponds to less than 0.1% misalignment, which, according to our analysis, results in a travel range of 98% of that for perfectly aligned drives. The validity of the process is demonstrated by fabrication of scanning micromirrors measuring 300 μm by 100 μm. Optical angular deflections from 4° at low frequency to 40° at resonance were measured for an applied voltage of 75 Vpp. Resonant frequencies ranged from 5 kHz to 15 kHz for these devices, making them suitable for high-speed, high-resolution optical scanning and switching.