Topology optimization methods have been shown to have extensive application in the design of microsystems. However, their utility in practical situations is restricted to predominantly planar configurations due to the limitations of most microfabrication techniques in realizing structures with arbitrary topologies in the direction perpendicular to the substrate. This study addresses the problem of synthesizing optimal topologies in the out-of-plane direction while obeying the constraints imposed by surface micromachining. A new formulation that achieves this by defining a design space that implicitly obeys the manufacturing constraints with a continuous design parameterization is presented in this paper. This is in contrast to including manufacturing cost in the objective function or constraints. The resulting solutions of the new formulation obtained with gradient-based optimization directly provide the photolithographic mask layouts. Two examples that illustrate the approach for the case of stiff structures are included.

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