The purpose of this research is to present a class of Self-Retracting Fully-compliant Bistable Micromechanisms (SRFBM). Fully-compliant mechanisms are needed to overcome the inherent limitations of microfabricated pin joints, especially in bistable mechanisms. The elimination of the clearances associated with pin joints will allow more efficient bistable mechanisms with smaller travel. Small travel, in a linear path facilitates integration with efficient on-chip actuators. Tensural pivots are developed and used to deal with the compressive loading to which the mechanism is subject. SRFBM are modeled using the Pseudo-Rigid-Body Model and finite element analysis. Suitable configurations of the SRFBM concept have been identified and fabricated using the MUMPs process. Complete systems, including external actuators and electrical contacts are 1140 μm by 625 μm (individual SRFBM are less than 300 μm by 300 μm). These systems have been tested, demonstrating on-chip actuation of bistable mechanisms. Power requirements for these systems are approximately 150 mW. Testing with manual force testers has also been completed and correlates well with finite element modeling. Actuation force is approximately 500 μN for forward actuation. Return actuation can be achieved either by external actuators or by thermal self-retraction of the mechanism. Thermal self-retraction is more efficient, but can result in damage to the mechanism. Fatigue testing has been completed on a single device, subjecting it to approximately 2 million duty cycles without failure. Based on the SRFBM concept a number of improvements and adaptations are presented, including systems with further power and displacement reductions and a G-switch for LIGA fabrication.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





fully-compliant mechanisms, bistable mechanisms, MEMS, tensural pivots, micromechanisms, Pseudo-Rigid-Body model