Multilayer microhydraulic actuators with speed and force configurations
March 11, 2021
Electrostatic motors have traditionally required high voltage and provided low torque, leaving them with a vanishingly small portion of the motor application space. The lack of robust electrostatic motors is of particular concern in microsystems because inductive motors do not scale well to small dimensions. Often, microsystem designers have to choose from a host of imperfect actuation solutions, leading to high voltage requirements or low efficiency and thus straining the power budget of the entire system. In this work, we describe a scalable three-dimensional actuator technology that is based on the stacking of thin microhydraulic layers. This technology offers an actuation solution at 50 volts, with high force, high efficiency, fine stepping precision, layering, low abrasion, and resistance to pull-in instability. Actuator layers can also be stacked in different configurations trading off speed for force, and the actuator improves quadratically in power density when its internal dimensions are scaled-down.