Efficient parametric excitation of silicon-on-insulator microcantilever beams by fringing electrostatic fields

Yoav Linzon, Bojan Ilic, Stella Lulinsky, Slava Krylov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large amplitude flexural vibrations have been excited in single layer silicon-on-insulator micromechanical cantilever beams in ambient air environment. Our driving approach relies on a single co-planar electrode located symmetrically around the actuated grounded cantilever. Electrostatic forces are created via tailored asymmetries in the fringing fields of deformed mechanical states during their electric actuation, with strong restoring forces acting in a direction opposite to the deflection. This results in an effective increase in the structure stiffness in its elastic regime. The devices had been fabricated using deep reactive ion etching based process and their responses were characterized in a laser Doppler vibrometer under ambient conditions. Harmonic voltages applied to the electrode result in the periodic modulation of the effective stiffness and lead to strong parametric excitation of the structure. As opposed to close gap actuators, where high-amplitude drives are severely limited by pull-in instabilities, squeezed gas damping, and stiction, our resonators exhibit very large vibration amplitudes (up to 8 in terms of the amplitude to thickness ratio in the strong parametric regime), with no apparent damage, via the application of highly tunable distributed forces. A reduced order model, based on the Galerkin decomposition, captures the main dynamical features of the system, and is consistent with the observed beam characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163508
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - 28 Apr 2013


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