This thesis is primarily concerned with the design, synthesis, modeling, and simulation of a linear micro-actuator that is able to travel relatively long distances upon the application of a bias voltage. The theoretical investigation addresses the functionality of this device in a certain setting given fixed and variable parameters. The objective of this investigation is to lay out a mathematical model, which explains the physics behind the workings of this device. It is not the objective of this investigation to study all the possible different scenarios that would result by changing certain or all the variable parameters, rather to prove that the concept of a traveling linear micro-actuator is sound. Furthermore, demonstrate that this device is functional to the specifications to which it was designed. The theoretical analysis was very critical in determining reasonable approximations for the parameters and dimensions of the device used to design the layout, and the process flow necessary for the fabrication process. The detailed explanation of each fabrication step is described in this thesis. The theoretical analysis shows that this linear micro-actuator, which has a relatively similar function to a parallel comb drive, can operate due to the electrostatic force generated upon the application of a bias voltage. This analysis, also, demonstrates that several other parameters have a direct effect on the performance of the device. Parameters, such as the thickness, the width, and the length of the electrodes are mathematically proven to change the magnitude of the electrostatic force responsible for the generation of the motion of the moving part of the micro-actuator. This device is comprised of two main components: a conductive fixed support, which works as a fixed electrode, and a moving electrode that would slide over this support and works as a shuttle. It is expected that the shuttle could be used in different applications as a transportation tool for other MEMS components or devices.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Microactuators--Design and construction; Microactuators--Mathematical models; Microelectromechanical systems

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Mustafa Abushagur

Advisor/Committee Member

Lynn Fuller

Advisor/Committee Member

Wayne Walter


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TJ223.A24 E55 2004


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