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Power delivery and locomotion of untethered microactuators

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5 Author(s)
Donald, B.R. ; Comput. Sci. Dept., Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, NH, USA ; Levey, C.G. ; McGray, C.D. ; Rus, D.
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The ability for a device to locomote freely on a surface requires the ability to deliver power in a way that does not restrain the device's motion. This paper presents a MEMS actuator that operates free of any physically restraining tethers. We show how a capacitive coupling can be used to deliver power to untethered MEMS devices, independently of the position and orientation of those devices. Then, we provide a simple mechanical release process for detaching these MEMS devices from the fabrication substrate once chemical processing is complete. To produce these untethered microactuators in a batch-compatible manner while leveraging existing MEMS infrastructure, we have devised a novel postprocessing sequence for a standard MEMS multiproject wafer process. Through the use of this sequence, we show how to add, post hoc , a layer of dielectric between two previously deposited polysilicon films. We have demonstrated the effectiveness of these techniques through the successful fabrication and operation of untethered scratch drive actuators. Locomotion of these actuators is controlled by frequency modulation, and the devices achieve maximum speeds of over 1.5 mm/s.

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 6 )

Date of Publication:

Dec. 2003

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