Electrothermal actuators for SiO2 photonic MEMS

T.J. Peters, Marcel Tichem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


This paper describes the design, fabrication and characterization of electrothermal bimorph actuators consisting of polysilicon on top of thick (>10 μm ) silicon dioxide beams. This material platform enables the integration of actuators with photonic waveguides, producing mechanically-flexible photonic waveguide structures that are positionable. These structures are explored as part of a novel concept for highly automated, sub-micrometer precision chip-to-chip alignment. In order to prevent residual stress-induced fracturing that is associated with the release of thick oxide structures from a silicon substrate, a special reinforcement method is applied to create suspended silicon dioxide beam structures. The characterization includes measurements of the post-release deformation (i.e., without actuation), as well as the deflection resulting from quasi-static and dynamic actuation. The post-release deformation reveals a curvature, resulting in the free ends of 800 μm long silicon dioxide beams with 5 μm-thick polysilicon to be situated approximately 80 μm above the chip surface. Bimorph actuators that are 800 μm in length produce an out-of-plane deflection of approximately 11 μm at 60 mW dissipated power, corresponding to an estimated 240 oC actuator temperature. The delivered actuation force of the 800 μm-long bimorph actuators having 5 μm-thick polysilicon is calculated to be approximately 750 μN at 120 mW.
Original languageEnglish
Article number200
Pages (from-to)1-20
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • bimorph actuator
  • photonic waveguide
  • silicon reinforcement
  • curvature
  • deflection
  • bending stiffness
  • transient response
  • OA-Fund TU Delft


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