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US6635837: MEMS micro-relay with coupled electrostatic and electromagnetic actuation

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Filing Information

Inventor(s) Arunkumar Subramanian · Susan Bromley · Bradley J. Nelson · Karl Vollmers ·
Assignee(s) ADC Telecommunications, Inc. ·
Attorney/Agent(s) Merchant & Gould P.C. ·
Primary Examiner J. R. Scott ·
Application Number US9843532
Filing date 04/26/2001
Issue date 10/21/2003
Prior Publication Data
Predicted expiration date 04/26/2021
U.S. Classifications 200/181  · 333/262  · 335/78  · 361/207  ·
International Classifications --
Kind CodeB2
International Classifications 333101-108 · 200 16 B · 200181 · 333262 · 335 78 · 335 79 · 335205 · 361207 ·
26 Claims, 9 Drawings


Abstract

A microelectromechanical relay and a method of fabricating the same that combines electrostatic actuation with electromagnetic actuation. The relay has very low contact resistance when the relay is in its ON state and enhanced contact-to-contact isolation when the relay is in its OFF state. The relay includes a substrate having a trench formed therein, a first pair of contacts located in the trench and an actuator for controllably establishing electrical contact between the first pair of contacts. The actuator includes spaced apart supports on the substrate and a movable beam extending between the supports. A contact cross bar is located on the movable beam facing the first pair of contacts. A first electrode is located on the movable beam and a second electrode is located on the substrate. Electromagnetic force is used to deflect the movable beam towards the substrate and then electrostatic force is used to bring the contact cross bar in physical contact with the first pair of contacts.

Independent Claims | See all claims (26)

  1. 1. A microelectromechanical relay comprising: a substrate layer having a trench formed therein; a first pair of contacts located in the trench of the substrate; a microelectromechanical actuator on the substrate for controllably establishing electrical contact between the first pair of contacts on the substrate, the actuator comprising: spaced apart supports on the substrate; a movable beam extending between the spaced apart supports; a contact cross bar located on the movable beam, the contact cross bar facing the first pair of contacts; means for deflecting the movable beam towards the first pair of contacts on the substrate; and means for bringing the cross bar in physical contact with the first pair of contacts.
  2. 7. A microelectromechanical relay comprising: a substrate having a trench formed therein; a first pair of contacts located in the trench of the substrate; a microelectromechanical actuator on the substrate for controllably establishing electrical contact between the first pair of contacts on the substrate, the actuator comprising: spaced apart supports on the substrate; a movable beam extending between the spaced apart supports; a contact cross bar located on the movable beam, the contact cross bar facing the first pair of contacts; means for generating an electromechanical force on the movable beam to deflect the beam towards the substrate; and means for generating an electrostatic force between the beam and the substrate so that the contact cross bar is brought into physical contact with the first pair of contacts.
  3. 8. A microrelay comprising: a substrate layer having a trench formed therein; a first pair of contacts located in the trench of the substrate; a microelectromechanical actuator on the substrate for a controllably establishing electrical contact between the first pair of contacts on the substrate, the actuator comprising: spaced apart supports on the substrate; a movable beam extending between the spaced apart supports; a contact cross bar located on the movable beam, the contact cross bar facing the first pair of contacts; a first electrode located on the movable beam; a second electrode located on the substrate, wherein the first electrode is at a different potential than the second electrode so that when the first and second electrodes are brought into close proximity to one another, an electrostatic force exists therebetween to bring the contact cross bar in contact with the first pair of contacts; and current carrying coils located in the movable beam wherein when the relay is placed in a permanent magnetic field, an electromagnetic force is exerted on the movable beam to deflect the beam towards the pair of contacts close enough so that the electrostatic force takes over.
  4. 15. A microelectromechanical relay comprising: a substrate layer; a first pair of contacts located on the substrate; a microelectromechanical actuator on the substrate for controllably establishing electrical contact between the first pair of contacts on the substrate, the actuator comprising: spaced apart supports on the substrate; a movable beam extending between the spaced apart supports; a contact cross bar located on the movable beam, the contact cross bar facing the first pair of contacts; an electromagnetic device configured and arranged to generate an electromagnetic force between the movable beam and the substrate to deflect the movable beam towards the first pair of contacts on the substrate; and an electrostatic device configured and arranged to generate a electrostatic force between the beam and the substrate to bring the cross bar in physical contact with the first pair of contacts.

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents

Document NumberAssigneesInventorsIssue/Pub Date
US3984794* Square D Company Beavitt Oct 1976
US4074088* Texas Instruments Incorporated Keough et al. Feb 1978
US4922070* Motorola, Inc. Dorinski May 1990
US5479042* Brooktree Corporation James et al. Dec 1995
US6054659* General Motors Corporation Lee et al. Apr 2000
US6094116* California Institute of Technology Tai et al. Jul 2000
US6100477* Texas Instruments Incorporated Randall et al. Aug 2000
US6376787* Texas Instruments Incorporated Martin et al. Apr 2002
* cited by examiner

Other Publications

Bosch, D. et al., “A Silicon Microvalve with Combined Electromagnetic/Electrostatic Actuation”,
Subramanian, A. et al., “Coupled Electrostatic and Electromagnetic Actuation”,
Cho, H. et al., “A Novel Bi-Directional Magnetic Microactuator Using Electroplated Permanent Magnet Arrays with Vertical Anisotropy”,
Drake, J. et al., “An Electrostatically Actuated Micro-Relay”,
Zavracky, P. et al., “Micromechanical Switches Fabricated Using Nickel Surface Micromachining”,

Patent Family

Document NumberAssigneeInventorsIssue/Pub Date
US20020160549 Susan Bromley et al. Oct 2002
US6635837 ADC Telecommunications, Inc. Arunkumar Subramanian et al. Oct 2003