Electro-Thermal-Compliant (ETC) micro devices are a new class of compliant mechanisms that elastically deform in response to Joule-heating induced constrained thermal expansion. In ETC devices, the mechanism and the actuator are indistinguishable and therefore it is called embedded actuation. This type of actuation is attractive for Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) where the actuator is often much larger than the mechanism and the mechanical coupling of the actuator and mechanism leads to additional difficulties. In this paper, we focus on thin, planar, appropriately shaped, deformable structures made of a conducting material to fabricate micro mechanisms with embedded actuation. We have developed a bulk micromachining process, called PennSOIL, using silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers to make silicon ETC devices, and also combined PennSOIL with excimer laser micromachining to make ETC devices with not only silicon but also a variety of metals. The experimental measurements are compared with the theoretical predictions. Test-structures are used to characterize the process and the resulting materials properties some of which are strongly temperature-dependent and process-dependent. The experimental results using the materials properties obtained from the test structures show agreement with the theoretical results.

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