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Microengineered electrically resettable circuit breaker

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5 Author(s)
M. C. Geear ; Microsaic Syst. Ltd., Surrey, UK ; E. M. Yeatman ; A. S. Holmes ; R. R. A. Syms
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Electromechanical circuit breakers based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) structures are proposed, and initial prototypes are demonstrated. The devices use laterally moving thermal actuators to set and trip low resistance contacts. The actuators are fabricated from electroplated Ni, on Si substrates, with Au-Co contact layers. Trip currents of 300 mA are obtained, with contact resistances below 1 Ω. Rapid tripping (below 50 ms) is achieved, even for modest over-current levels, and sensitivity to ambient temperature is much less than for positive temperature coefficient (PTC) devices typically used for over-current protection in electronics applications. These MEMS devices offer an ultra-miniature, potentially low cost solution for circuit protection applications at low currents, where a high degree of system control is desired.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 6 )