Monday, March 19, 2007

US Patent 7190092 - Scrubbing MEMS contacts

Stiction is a problem commonly associated with micromechanical structures and results from chemical residue or electrostatic charges which can build up and leave a microstructure stuck in a particular position. This patent fro a company called Teravicta proposes a fairly basic solution involving controlled scrubbing of the MEMS surfaces to reduce the stiction effect. Claim 1 reads:

1. A micro-electromechanical switch module, comprising: a micro-electromechanical switch having a control element and a contact surface; and signal generation circuitry adapted to electrically, thermally or magnetically actuate the switch sufficient to provide repetitive scrubbing action between contacts of the switch during at least a portion of time when the switch is closed.