Researchers Design a More Durable MEMS Switch


Researchers from Binghamton University’s Mechanical Engineering Department have actually established a method to make cell phones and power lines more durable.

Assistant Teacher Sherry Towfighian and college student Mark Pallay produced a brand-new kind of microelectromechanical system– more typically referred to as a MEMS switch– that utilizes electrostatic levitation to supply a more robust system.

“All cell phones use MEMS switches for wireless communication, but traditionally there are just two electrodes,” stated Towfighian. “Those switches open and close numerous times during just one hour, but their current lifespan is limited by the two-electrode system.”


When the 2 electrodes enter into contact– after a number of repeatings– the surface area of the bottom electrode ends up being broken, causing a MEMS switch that needs to be disposed of and changed. Some researchers have actually attempted to prevent the damage by including dimples or landing pads to the electrodes to lower the contact location when the electrodes clash, however Towfighian discussed that this only hold-ups the ultimate breakdown of the product.

She wished to produce a system that prevents the damage completely. Rather of following the two-electrode design, she created a MEMS switch with 3 electrodes on the bottom and one electrode parallel to the others. The 2 bottom electrodes on the right and left side are charged while the middle and leading electrodes are grounded.

“This type of MEMS switch is normally closed, but the side electrodes provide a strong upward force that can overcome the forces between the two middle electrodes and open the switch,” discussed Towfighian. This force, called electrostatic levitation, is presently not readily available with the two-electrode system. The capability to create this force avoids irreversible damage of the gadget after constant usage and allows a trusted bi-directional switch.

For cell phones, this design suggests longer life and less part replacements.

Towfighian“For cell phones, this design means longer life and fewer component replacements,” stated Towfighian. “For power lines, this type of MEMS switch would be useful when voltage goes beyond a limit and we want to open the switch. The design allows us to have more reliable switches to monitor unusual spikes in voltage, like those caused by an earthquake, that can cause danger to public safety.”

The research study entitled “A reliable MEMS switch using electrostatic levitation” was released on Nov. 20, 2018, in Applied Physics Letters It was moneyed by the National Science Structure’s Department of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS) grant #1608692

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