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This paper describes the results of our development of a leak-tight piezoelectric microvalve, operating at extremely high upstream pressures for microspacecraft applications. The device is a normally closed microvalve assembled and fabricated primarily from micromachined silicon wafers. The microvalve consists of a custom-designed piezoelectric stack actuator bonded onto silicon valve components (such as the seat, boss, and tether) with the entire assembly contained within a stainless steel housing. The valve seat configurations include narrow-edge seating rings and tensile-stressed silicon tethers that enable the desired, normally closed, leak-tight operation. Leak testing of the microvalve was conducted using a helium leak detector and showed leak rates of 5×10-3 sccm at 800 psi (5.516 MPa). Dynamic microvalve operation (switching rates of up to 1 kHz) was successfully demonstrated for inlet pressures in the range of 0∼1000 psi. The measured static flow rate for the microvalve under an applied potential of 10 V was 52 sccm at an inlet pressure of 300 psi. The measured power consumption, in the fully open state, was 3 mW at an applied potential of 30 V. The measured dynamic power consumption was 180 mW for 100 Hz continuous operation at 100psi.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2004