Surface micromachined electro-thermal beam flexure actuators are characterized by a number of desirable attributes including low response time, which encourages their use in sensing applications. This provides motivation for investigating the dynamic characteristics of these actuators in order to design more energy efficient electro-thermal actuators. To this end, this paper presents the development and implementation of a comprehensive finite element model to examine the transient response of the beam flexure actuator in air and vacuum environments. The predicted dynamic response of the actuator in air is compared with measured data and a previous analytical model. The effects of pulse width modulation are also investigated using model simulations, which might simplify implementation of the actuator in microsystems.

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