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We report the design, fabrication, and characterization of a rotary micromotor supported on microball bearings. This is the first demonstration of a rotary micromachine with a robust mechanical support provided by microball-bearing technology. A six-phase bottom-drive variable-capacitance micromotor (Phi = 14 mm) is designed and simulated using the finite-element (FE) method. The stator and the rotor are fabricated separately on silicon substrates and assembled with the microballs. Three layers of low-k benzocyclobutene polymer, two layers of gold, and a silicon microball housing are fabricated on the stator. Microball housing and salient structures (poles) are etched in the rotor and are coated with a silicon carbide film that reduces the friction without which the operation was not possible. A top angular velocity of 517 r/min, corresponding to the linear tip velocity of 324 mm/s, is measured at plusmn150-V and 800-Hz excitation. This is 44 times higher than the velocity previously demonstrated for linear micromotors supported on the microball bearings. A noncontact method is developed to extract the torque and the bearing coefficient of friction through dynamic response measurements. The torque is indirectly measured to be -5.62 plusmn 0.5 muN ldr m at plusmn150-V excitation which is comparable with the FE simulation results predicting -6.75 muN ldr m. The maximum output mechanical power at plusmn150 V and 517 r/min was calculated to be 307 muW. The bearing coefficient of friction is measured to be 0.02 plusmn 0.002 which is in good agreement with the previously reported values. The rotary micromotor developed in this paper is a platform technology for centrifugal micropumps used for fuel-delivery and cooling applications.
Date of Publication: June 2008