Journal article

High-angular-range electrostatic rotary stepper micromotors fabricated with SOI technology

Flexible bearings are advantageous for microelectromechanical systems as they enable precise, accurate, repeatable, and reliable motion without frictional contact. Based on the principle of a rotary folded-beam suspension, we have designed, fabricated, modeled, and characterized an electrostatic rotary stepper micromotor in silicon. Using 3-D finite-element analysis simulations that were corroborated by extensive characterizations performed in quasi-static, transient, and dynamic regimes, we could establish a consistent electromechanical model of the motor. In particular, dynamic nonlinearities such as superharmonic and subharmonic resonances are well described by the proposed model. Two prototypes of monolithic three-phase stepper motors have been fabricated with standard silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, using either a two-mask or a single-mask process. The two-mask SOI motor has a rotor diameter of 1.4 mm and has an angular range of 30°(+/- 15°) for a 65-V (130 Vpp) sinusoidal actuation. The single-mask SOI motor has a rotor diameter of 1.8 mm and incorporates a differential capacitive sensor for angular position measurement. It reaches a maximum angular speed of 1°/ms and has an angular range of 30° for a 23-V (46 Vpp) sinusoidal actuation. The exceptional performance of the motor and the demonstration of successful capacitive sensing make it suitable for use as an active joint module in future microrobotic applications

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