Symmetry breaking in an initially curved micro beam loaded by a distributed electrostatic force

Lior Medina*, Rivka Gilat, Slava Krylov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The asymmetric buckling of a shallow initially curved stress-free micro beam subjected to distributed nonlinear deflection-dependent electrostatic force is studied. In order to highlight the symmetry breaking phenomenon and the approach to its analysis, the subsidiary simplified problem of a curved beam attached to a linearly elastic foundation, and subjected to uniformly distributed "mechanical" load, which is independent of deflections, is addressed first. The analysis is based on a two degrees of freedom reduced order (RO) model resulting from the Galerkin decomposition with linear undamped eigenmodes of a straight beam used as the base functions. Simple approximate expressions are derived defining the geometric parameters of beams for which an asymmetric response bifurcates from the symmetric one. The necessary criterion establishes the conditions for the appearance of bifurcation points on the unstable branch of the symmetric limit point buckling curve; the sufficient criterion assures a realistic asymmetric buckling bifurcating from the stable branches of the curve. It is shown that while the symmetry breaking conditions are affected by the nonlinearity of the electrostatic force, its influence is less pronounced than in the case of the symmetric snap-through criterion. A comparison between the RO model results and those obtained by direct numerical analysis shows good agreement between the two and indicates that the obtained criteria can be used to predict non-symmetric buckling in electrostatically actuated bistable micro beams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1864-1876
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number13
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2012


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1426/08


    • Bistability
    • Curved micro beam
    • Elastic foundation
    • Electrostatic force
    • Non-symmetric buckling criteria
    • Snap-through buckling


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