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Dynamic pull-in of parallel-plate and torsional electrostatic MEMS actuators

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2 Author(s)
Nielson, G.N. ; Sandia Nat. Labs., Albuquerque, NM ; Barbastathis, G.

An analysis of the dynamic characteristics of pull-in for parallel-plate and torsional electrostatic actuators is presented. Traditionally, the analysis for pull-in has been done using quasi-static assumptions. However, it was recently shown experimentally that a step input can cause a decrease in the voltage required for pull-in to occur. We propose an energy-based solution for the step voltage required for pull-in that predicts the experimentally observed decrease in the pull-in voltage. We then use similar energy techniques to explore pull-in due to an actuation signal that is modulated depending on the sign of the velocity of the plate (i.e., modulated at the instantaneous mechanical resonant frequency). For this type of actuation signal, significant reductions in the pull-in voltage can theoretically be achieved without changing the stiffness of the structure. This analysis is significant to both parallel-plate and torsional electrostatic microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switching structures where a reduced operating voltage without sacrificing stiffness is desired, as well as electrostatic MEMS oscillators where pull-in due to dynamic effects needs to be avoided

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:15 ,  Issue: 4 )