2013 R&D 100 Winner
Univ. of Michigan High Performance Electrostatic Comb-drive Micro-ActuatorsMicro-actuators are important devices that function as switches in electronic and mechanical devices. Increasingly, these actuators are called upon to serve a switching function in microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices for optical switches, probe-based data storage and microscale energy harvesting. Traditional electromagnetic and piezoelectric actuators are either challenging to integrate in MEMS devices or offer limited stroke and force capacity. High Performance Electrostatic Comb-drive Micro-Actuators developed by the Univ. of Michigan make use of fundamentally new flexure mechanisms for actuator guidance, which mitigates sideways instability in electrostatic comb-drive actuators. This produces three times greater single-directional stroke and five times greater bi-directional stroke compared previous comb-drive actuators. It also preserves the small footprint (8 mm2), bandwidth (~400 Hz), actuation force (0.3 mN) and low-cost photolithography fabrication methods associated with this type of actuator.


Univ. of Michigan

Development Team

Shorya Awtar Mohammad Olfatnia


The High Performance Electrostatic Comb-drive Micro-Actuators Development Team from Univ. of Michigan
Shorya Awtar, Principal Developer
Mohammad Olfatnia