A contribution to the expansion of the applicability of electrostatic forces in micro transducers
Electrostatic actuation is highly efficient at micro and nanoscale. However, large deflection in common electrostatically driven MEMS requires large electrode separation and thus high driving voltages. To offer a solution to this problem we developed a novel electrostatic actuator class, which is based on a force-to-stress transformation in the periodically patterned upper layer of a silicon cantilever beam. We report on advances in the development of such electrostatic bending actuators. Several variants of a CMOS compatible and RoHS-directive compliant fabrication processes to fabricate vertical deflecting beams with a thickness of 30 Î¼m are presented. A concept to extend the actuation space towards lateral deflecting elements is introduced. The fabricated and characterized vertical deflecting cantilever beam variants make use of a 0.2 Î¼m electrode gap and achieve deflections of up to multiples of this value. Simulation results based on an FE-model applied to calcul ate the voltage dependent curvature for various actuator cell designs are presented. The calculated values show very good agreement with the experimentally determined voltage controlled actuation curvatures. Particular attention was paid to parasitic effects induced by small, sub micrometer, electrode gaps. This includes parasitic currents between the two electrode layers. No experimental hint was found that such effects significantly influence the curvature for a control voltage up to 45 V. The paper provides an outlook for the applicability of the technology based on specifically designed and fabricated actuators which allow for a large variety of motion patterns including out-of-plane and in-plane motion as well as membrane deformation and linear motion.