The TIM (Thermomechanical In-plane Microactuator) is a thermal actuator that offers a high output force at a low input voltage, in a design that can be easily modified to match force and displacement requirements of various applications. The purpose of this paper is to examine factors that affect the steady-state power requirements of a TIM. Reducing the power requirements of the TIM is critical for its use in some systems such as autonomous microsystems. The influence of several geometric modifications and one environment change on energy loss and actuator efficiency was investigated. The steady-state deflection of five different TIM designs was measured for various levels of input power in both air and vacuum. The extent of the power reduction for the most efficient design in air varied with deflection from about 40 percent at 4 μm deflection to 20 percent at a deflection of 8 μm. The most significant reduction in power was observed for devices tested under vacuum where conduction from the legs through the air to the substrate was minimal due to reduced heat losses at the low pressure.

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