Abstract

This work presents the design, modeling, simulation, and characterization of a metal bent-beam photo-thermal micro-actuator. The mechanism of actuation is based on the thermal expansion of the micro-actuator which is irradiated by a laser, achieving noncontact control of the power supply. Models for micro-actuators were established and finite-element simulations were carried out to investigate the effects of various parameters on actuation properties. It is found that the thermal expansion coefficient, thermal conductivity, and the geometry size largely affected actuation behavior whereas heat capacity, density, and Young’s modulus did not. Experiments demonstrated the dynamic properties of a Ni micro-actuator fabricated via LIGA technology with 1100/30/100μm (long/wide/thick) arms. The tip displacement of the micro-actuator could achieve up to 42 μm driven by a laser beam (1064 nm wavelength, 1.2 W power, and a driving frequency of 1 HZ). It is found that the tip displacement decreases with increasing laser driving frequency. For 8 Hz driving frequency, 17 μm (peak-valley value) can be still reached, which is large enough for the application as micro-electro-mechanical systems. Metal photo-thermal micro actuators have advantages such as large displacement, simple structure, and large temperature tolerance, and therefore they will be promising in the fields of micro/nanotechnology.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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