This paper describes design, fabrication and characterization of a proof-of-concept vertical travel linear microactuator designed to provide out-of-plane actuation for high precision positioning applications in space. The microactuator is designed to achieve vertical actuation travel by incorporating compliant beam structures within a SOI (Silicon on Insulator) wafer. Device structure except for the piezoelectric actuator is fabricated on the SOI wafer using Deep Reactive Ion Etch (DRIE) process. Incremental travel distance of the piezoelectric actuator is adjustable at nanometer level by controlling voltage. Bistable beam geometry is employed to minimize initial gaps between electrodes. The footprint of an actuator is approximately 2 mm × 4 mm. Actuation is characterized with LabVIEW-based test bed. Actuation voltage sequence is generated by the LabVIEW controlled power relays. Vertical actuation in the range of 500 nm over 10-cycle was observed using WYKO RST Plus Optical Profiler.

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