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We present active electrostatic MEMS gas valves for Micro-Gas-Analyzer (MGA) flow control. These unique valves enable extremely low dead volume, highly integrated flow control chips for the MGA application, and potentially others (e.g., propulsion, pneumatic, and thermodynamic microsystems). We have demonstrated low leak rates ( <; 0.025 sccm, <; 0.0025 sccm on a similar passive valve design), high operating pressures 6.9×105 N/m2 (100 psig), a high-pressure record for valves of this size and type, and high flow rates (>; 25 sccm) using control voltages on the order of 100 V. The valve designs presented eliminate charge build-up issues associated with insulating materials and are closely tied to a base-lined microfabrication process (SUMMiT), allowing mass production. Using this process, which incorporates only CMOS compatible materials, eliminates outgassing and absorption problems inherent to microvalve designs that incorporate elastomers or organic bonding layers, and reduces contamination when the valve is part of the chemical analysis flowpath. The results obtained indicate that even higher performance level valves (>; 1.4 × 106 N/m2 or 200 psig operating pressure, at similar control voltage, flow rates, and leak rates) are possible.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2011