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A small-gap electrostatic micro-actuator for large deflections

: Conrad, Holger; Schenk, Harald; Kaiser, Bert; Langa, Sergiu; Gaudet, Matthieu; Schimmanz, Klaus; Stolz, Michael; Lenz, Miriam

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Nature Communications 6 (2015), Art. 10078, 7 S.
ISSN: 2041-1723
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IPMS ()

Common quasi-static electrostatic micro actuators have significant limitations in deflection due to electrode separation and unstable drive regions. State-of-the-art electrostatic actuators achieve maximum deflections of approximately one third of the electrode separation. Large electrode separation and high driving voltages are normally required to achieve large actuator movements. Here we report on an electrostatic actuator class, fabricated in a CMOS-compatible process, which allows high deflections with small electrode separation. The concept presented makes the huge electrostatic forces within nanometre small electrode separation accessible for large deflections. Electrostatic actuations that are larger than the electrode separation were measured. An analytical theory is compared with measurement and simulation results and enables closer understanding of these actuators. The scaling behaviour discussed indicates significant future improvement on actuator deflection. The presented driving concept enables the investigation and development of novel micro systems with a high potential for improved device and system performance.