Exploring the Design Space of Electro Thermal Actuators

W. Hodges, and J.V. Clark
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

In this paper we explore the design space of several configurations of electro thermal actuators (ETA) through COMSOL. A unique attribute of ETA is their ability to produce a large and stable actuation force using any semi-conductive material. Comparisons between ETAs are lacking. Without adequate comparisons, it is difficult for designers to readily decide which type and geometry of ETAs might best suit their needs. Recently, chevron ETAs were compared against novel L-shaped ETA with superior result. However, other design configurations were not explored. We provide a more comprehensive comparison that includes conventional and unconventional designs. Given a particular amount of chip real estate, our performance metrics include deflection or force versus: voltage, maximum temperature, geometric parameters, and power dissipation.