Using a new precision bonding process they developed, Penn State researchers have designed and fabricated tiny new piezoelectric microactuators -- the largest only a hairs breadth wide -- based on coupling commercially available materials with existing micromachining technology.
Some possible applications of the new Penn State piezoelectric microactuator
The new actuators promise to be low cost, and capable of providing controlled force, high resolution and large displacements appropriate for applications in RF switches for cell phones, for example, or optical switches for wide screen TVs. Other potential applications include microfluidic pumps and valves, micromanipulators for nanoscale handling and atomic force microscope drives.
Dr. Srinivas A. Tadigadapa, associate professor of electrical engineering and a developer of the bonding process and microactuator, says, "These new piezoelectric microactuators are the first realized using microfabrication methods, a mature technology used to make computer chips and micromachines from silicon-based materials. Our new low temperature wafer bonding techniques, which make the actuators possible, can also be used for precision integration of dissimilar materials in other micro-electro-mechanical systems."
Barbara Hale | EurekAlert!
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