We report on a flow velocity measurement technique based on snap-through detection of an electrostatically actuated, bistable micromechanical beam. We show that induced elecro-thermal Joule heating, and the convective air cooling change the beam curvature and consequently, the critical snap-through voltage (VST). Using single crystal silicon beams, we demonstrate the snap-through voltage to flow velocity sensitivity of dVST/du 0.13 V s m-1 with a power consumption of 360 μW. Our experimental results were in accord with the reduced order, coupled, thermo-electro-mechanical model prediction. We anticipate that electrostatically induced snap-through in curved, micromechanical beams will open new directions for the design and implementation of downscaled flow sensors for autonomous applications and environmental sensors.
- electrothermal effects
- fluid flow measurement
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering