Temperature Homogenization of Co-Integrated Shape Memory—Silicon Bimorph Actuators

The high work density and beneficial downscaling of shape memory alloy (SMA) actuation performance provide a basis for the development of actuators and systems at microscales. Here, we report a novel monolithic fabrication approach for the co-integration of SMA and Si microstructures to enable SMA-Si bimorph microactuation. Double-beam cantilevers are chosen for the actuator layout to enable electrothermal actuation by Joule heating. The SMA materials under investigation are NiMnGa and NiTi(Hf) films with tunable phase transformation temperatures. We show that Joule heating of the cantilevers generates increasing temperature gradients for decreasing cantilever size, which hampers actuation performance. In order to cope with this problem, a new method for design optimization is presented based on finite element modeling (FEM) simulations. We demonstrate that temperature homogenization can be achieved by the design of additional folded beams in the perpendicular direction to the active beam cantilevers. Thereby, power consumption can be reduced by more than 35 % and maximum deflection can be increased up to a factor of 2 depending on the cantilever geometry.


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