Proper positioning of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) components influences the functionality of the device, especially in devices where the motion is in the range of hundreds of micrometers. There are two main obstacles to positioning: off-axis displacement, and position determination. This work studies four large-displacement devices, their axial and transverse stiffness, and piezoresistive response. Methods for improving the device characteristics are described. The folded-beam suspension, small X-Bob, large X-Bob and double X-Bob were characterized using non-dimensional metrics that measure the displacement with regard to the size of the device, and transverse stiffness with regard to axial stiffness. The stiffness in each direction was determined using microprobes to induce displacement, and microfabricated force gauges to determine the applied force. The large X-Bob was optimized, increasing the transverse stiffness metric by 67%. Four-point resistance testing and microprobes were used to determine the piezoresistive response of the devices. The piezoresistive response of the X-Bob was maximized using an optimization routine. The resulting piezoresistive response was over seven times larger than that of the initial design. Piezoresistive encoders for ratcheting actuation of large-displacement MEMS are introduced. Four encoders were studied and were found to provide information on the performance of the ratcheting actuation system at frequencies up to 920 Hz. The PMT encoder produced unique signals corresponding to distinct ideal and non-ideal operation of the ratchet wheel actuation system. Encoders may be useful for future applications which require position determination.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





off-axis stiffness, piezoresistive sensing, compliant mechanisms, microelectromechanical systems, large displacement, linear motion