This paper investigates the effect of bearing clearance on the impact behavior of microfabricated silicon journal bearings. The design of a novel test apparatus to assess microbearing wear behavior is presented. Microbearing designs, microfabrication processes, and metrology characterization techniques are discussed. A dynamic impact model of the bearing system based on classical impulse-momentum relations is formulated in order to assess the effect of clearance on rotor speed. Coefficient of restitution values obtained over the range of kinematically allowable radial clearance specifications are found to agree well with previously published results for polysilicon microstructures.

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