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A Fast Liquid-Metal Droplet Microswitch Using EWOD-Driven Contact-Line Sliding

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2 Author(s)
Prosenjit Sen ; Micro & Nano Manuf. Lab., Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA ; Chang-Jin Kim

Liquid-metal (LM) droplet-based MEMS switches have mostly been restricted to slow applications until now due to the following reasons: (1) a relatively large switching gap (distance) needed to accommodate imprecise volumes and locations of droplets on the device and (2) lack of high-speed actuation to move the droplets quickly across the switching gap. To combat these problems, we explore switching by sliding the solid-LM-gas triple contact line rather than the entire droplet. This new approach allows us to use a microframe, which not only consistently positions the LM droplet but also makes the switching gap less sensitive to the errors in the deposited-droplet volume, allowing us to design microswitches with very small switching gaps (e.g., 10 mum for 600 mum-diameter droplets). Furthermore, a study of electrowetting-on-dielectric identifies a regime of fast contact-line sliding at the onset of droplet spreading. By moving the contact line fast across a small switching distance, we demonstrate a low-latency LM switch with 60 mus switch-on latency ( ~ 20 times better than other LM-switch technologies) and better than 5 mus signal rise/fall time, while boasting no contact bounce, as expected from an LM switch. High power-handling capability and long-term reliability are also discussed.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 1 )