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Significance of the Casimir force and surface roughness for actuation dynamics of MEMS

By Wijnand Broer, George Palasantzas, Jasper Knoester and Vitaly B. Svetovoy


Using the measured optical response and surface roughness topography as inputs, we perform realistic calculations of the combined effect of Casimir and electrostatic forces on the actuation dynamics of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). In contrast with the expectations, roughness can influence MEMS dynamics, even at distances between bodies significantly larger than the root-mean-square roughness. This effect is associated with statistically rare high asperities that can be locally close to the point of contact. It is found that even though surface roughness appears to have a detrimental effect on the availability of stable equilibria, it ensures that those equilibria can be reached more easily than in the case of flat surfaces. Hence our findings play a principal role for the stability of microdevices such as vibration sensors, switches, and other related MEM architectures operating at distances below 100 nm.

Year: 2013
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