WARF: P01337US

Micromechanical Actuator Device


Yogesh Gianchandani, Joel Hetrick, Larry Li-Yang Chu

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a micromechanical, electrothermal actuator device that can provide rectilinear displacements of 100 microns or more.
OVERVIEWElectrothermal actuators have been used in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to produce rectilinear displacement. These actuators possess a number of advantages, including high output forces, low actuation voltages and electrically conductive structural materials. However, many MEMS applications require much more displacement than the maximum of eight microns typically provided by electrothermal actuators.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a micromechanical, electrothermal actuator device that can provide rectilinear displacements of 100 microns or more. The device employs structures, called compliant mechanisms or flexures, which deform elastically to transmit force or displacement. When a mesh of compliant structures (called a compliant microtransmission) is coupled to an electrothermal actuator in this device, it amplifies the motion of the actuator to produce displacements 10 to 20 times greater than the actuator alone could provide.
  • Rectilinear displacements in MEMS
  • Amplifies rectilinear displacement 10- to 20-fold more than that produced by an electrothermal actuator alone
  • Provides 100 micron displacements useful for switching operations in optical communications
  • Compact
  • Requires relatively low voltage
  • Compliant microtransmissions eliminate the friction, wear and backlash of conventional mechanical joints, and are easy to fabricate at the microscale.
  • Chu L.L., Hetrick J.A. and Gianchandani Y.B. 2002. High Amplification Compliant Microtransmissions for Rectilinear Electrothermal Actuators. Sens. Actuators A Phys. 97, 776-783.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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