We are developing a new type of piezoelectric microactuator (and microsensor). Modeling indicates that this microactuator should be able to provide displacements and forces similar to or better than electrostatic actuators, but at lower voltages. In use as a microsensor, high sensitivities (in terms of Volts per microNewton) are expected from this device. Unlike typical piezoelectric microactuators or microsensors, displacement of this microactuator/microsensor is directed in the plane of the substrate, which permits more sophisticated devices to be developed. Current development efforts focus on using this technology to fabricate a MEMS current sensor based on both piezoelectric and magnetic transduction. This sensor will be capable of passive proximity measurement of AC currents (for the Demand Response project). Additional applications of this microactuator technology have been identified in the areas of data storage, microfluidics, and microrobotics.
Project end date: 09/05/03