Daniel W. Brown

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The objective of this investigation was to design and fabricate a metrology tool for measuring the wear in micro-bearings. The critical component of the tool was a silicon test bed consisting of a bearing shaft and a set of microchannels to direct an air stream onto the fins of a micro-rotor assembled onto the bearing shaft. By driving the micro-rotor pneumatically, surface interactions between the bearing and the rotor can be studied over time. The silicon test bed mates to a custom aluminum chuck which has provisions for sealing the test bed and supplying air pressure from an external source. The silicon test bed was successfully fabricated by bulk micromachining using Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE). Test rotors were also fabricated using DRIE and manually placed onto the bearing shaft of the test bed. A glass cover slide, held in place by the aluminum chuck, was used to seal the top of the test bed. Test rotors were successfully rotated using a minimum input air pressure of 0.5 psi.

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