UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A cantilever-type electrostatic zipping actuator Dhaubanjar, Naresh; Rao, Smitha M. N.; Cai, Ying; Popa, Dan; Chiao, Mu; Chiao, J.-C.


This paper discussed modeling, design, fabrication and characterization of a new cantilever-type electrostatic zipping actuator. The actuator was designed to achieve high displacements and fabricated using multi-layer polysilicon foundry fabrication process PolyMUMPS. The high out-of-plane displacement is to satisfy the requirements in specific optical applications. In this paper we presented the design considerations in displacement, electrostatic forces and electrostatic stability. The electrostatic force between the curved cantilever and the bottom electrode on the substrate pulls the cantilever down. With a warped cantilever, the force closes the gap from the anchor end and gradually the zipping effect actuates the entire cantilever without increasing the biasing voltages. Previous electrostatic zipper actuators require a thin layer of dielectric material on top of the bottom electrode to prevent electrical shorting. They may have an issue with electrical breakdown of the thin dielectric layer due to the film quality. We designed a new mechanical structure to avoid the electrical shorting problem without a layer of dielectric material. Our analysis and experimental results demonstrated that the proposed design can withstand high voltages without shorting and is capable of high deflection. The vertical displacements of different device configurations were found ranging from 30.4μm to 450μm while the actuation voltages varied in the range from 12V to 45.3V for complete actuation. The pull-in voltages for various configurations were analyzed and presented. Copyright 2006 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.

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