The purpose of this research is to identify the configurations of several mechanism classes which result in bistable behavior. Bistable mechanisms have use in many applications, such as switches, clasps, closures, hinges, and so on. A powerful method for the design of such mechanisms would allow the realization of working designs much more easily than has been possible in the past. A method for the design of bistable mechanisms is especially needed for micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) because fabrication and material constraints often prevent the use of simple, well-known bistable mechanism configurations. In addition, this knowledge allows designers to take advantage of the many benefits of compliant echanisms, especially their ability to store and release energy in their moving segments. Therefore, an analysis of a variety of mechanism classes has been performed to determine the configurations of compliant segments or rigid-body springs in a mechanism which result in bistable behavior. The analysis revealed a relationship between the placement of compliant segments and the stability characteristics of the mechanism which allows either analysis or synthesis of bistable mechanisms to be performed very easily. Using this knowledge, a method of type synthesis for bistable mechanisms has been developed which allows bistable mechanisms to be easily synthesized. Several design examples have been presented which demonstrate the method. The theory has also been applied to the design of several bistable micromechanisms. In the process of searching for usable designs for micro-bistable mechanisms, a mechanism class was defined, known as "Young" mechanisms, which represent a feasible and useful way of achieving micro-mechanism motion similar to that of any four-bar mechanism. Based on this class, several bistable micro-mechanisms were designed and fabricated. Testing demonstrated the ability of the mechanisms to snap between the two stable states. In addition, the mechanisms showed a high degree of repeatability in their stable positions.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





compliant mechanisms, mechanism design, bistable mechanisms, bistable behavior, micro-electro-mechanical systems, MEMS, bistable micro-mechanisms, micro-mechanisms