Abstract

This paper introduces a novel approach that combines Printed Circuit Board (PCB or PC board) Technology with MEMS technology to batch-fabricate large-area arrays of released mechanical structures that are of macro-scale size. As an initial demonstration of this approach. we have batch-fabricated a passively-addressed array of 256 electrostatically-actuated valves and air jets, intended for use in a “Smart” application. Preliminary experiments have been performed showing that these valves can switch a substantial air flow multiple times per second. The electrostatic voltage required to maintain valve closure was found to be many times higher than predicted analytically through modeling of the geometries, flow rates, and forces involved, indicating a need for further analysis and experimentation to better understand the physical effects that come into play at this macroscopic scale. Using PCB technology as a means for extending the MEMS design and fabrication methodologies has the potential to enable batch fabrication of macro-scale arrays of sensors, actuators, conduits, and other elements of a complete system.

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