Abstract

There exists a need to stabilize the electrostatic actuation commonly used in Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS). Most electrostatically actuated MEMS devices act as variable capacitors with varying gap between the charged conductors. Electrostatic force in these devices is a nonlinear attractive force between the conductors resulting in a complex dynamic system. These systems are stable for only a small portion of the initial gap. In this paper a design method is presented for electrostatic micro-mirrors with improved stability. Controllable, stable electrostatic actuation can be achieved through surface contact between the two conductors. Once in contact with the surface, the compliance of the structure is used to stabilize the electrostatic actuation over a long range of motion. Beam based variable angle mirrors were designed and fabricated using the Multi-User MEMS Process at MCNC technology center. The design methods for stable electrostatic actuation were tested on these mirrors. Some characteristics are noted and their implementation into future designs is discussed.

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