Polymeric thermal microactuator with embedded silicon skeleton: Part I - Design and analysis

Gih Keong Lau*, Johannes F.L. Goosen, Fred van Keulen, Trinh Chu Duc, Pasqualina M. Sarro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This paper presents the modeling of a new design of a polymeric thermal microactuator with an embedded meander-shaped silicon skeleton. The design has a skeleton embedded in a polymer block. The embedded skeleton improves heat transfer to the polymer and reinforces it. In addition, the skeleton laterally constrains the polymer to direct the volumetric thermal expansion of the polymer in the actuation direction. The complex geometry and multiple-material composition of the actuator make its modeling very involved. In this paper, the main focus is on the development of approximate electrothermal and thermoelastic models to capture the essence of the actuator behavior. The approximate models are validated with a fully coupled multiphysics finite element model and with experimental testing. The approximate models can be useful as an inexpensive tool for subsequent design optimization. Evaluation, using the analytical and numerical models, shows that the polymer actuator with the embedded skeleton outperforms its counterpart without a skeleton, which is in terms of heat transfer and, thus, response time, actuation stress, and planarity. [2007-0193].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-822
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2008


  • Artificial muscle
  • Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
  • Multiphysicsmodeling
  • Polymer actuators
  • Thermal actuators

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