Abstract

In recent years there has been an emerging interest in the design, fabrication, and application of distributed air valves. Electrostatic cantilever air valves that are fabricated within a PC board process offer advantages such as low cost fabrication and potential for system integration. This paper reports on the operation and dynamics of these PCB valves. The experimental work focused on valve parameters such as cantilever flap size, material, thickness, orifice size, and dielectric thickness. Certain combinations of parameters were examined for real world operation including their flow handling capacity, switching speeds, voltage requirements, and durability. Valves that were fabricated in this work could switch in milliseconds, undertake hold-back pressures of over 2 KPa, and switch flows of over 6 SCFH. The hysteretic switching behavior is suitable for passive matrix addressing of arrays of such valves. Lifetimes exceeding 1 million cycles have been demonstrated.

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