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Software-defined microstrip antennas enabled through large vertical displacement zipper microactuators

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4 Author(s)
Felder, J. ; Dept. of Mech. Eng., Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA ; DeVoe, D.L. ; Lee, E. ; Walton, E.

This paper describes a novel large-displacement electrostatic “zipper” microactuator capable of achieving hundreds of microns of out-of-plane deflection, and application of fabricated microactuators to the control of millimeter-scale microfabricated capacitive pixels enabling “software-defined” microstrip antennas. The software-defined microstrip patch antenna concept relies on a reconfigurable array of individually addressed pixels. Current antenna designs demand pixel footprints below 1 mm2, with 300 μm vertical deflections, 1 ms response times, and low power consumption. To address this challenge we have developed a new technology based on electrostatic zipper actuation, in which a curved beam is switched between bistable states by application of a voltage across a dielectric film separating the beam from a flat electrode surface. This technology is novel in its use of SiO2 as both a high quality dielectric and the stressed layer of the bimorph providing curved actuation, enabling large out-of-plane deflection and large forces.

Published in:

Microsystems for Measurement and Instrumentation (MAMNA), 2012

Date of Conference:

27-27 March 2012

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