, Volume 11, Issue 12, pp 1292-1300

Electrostatically driven synthetic microjet arrays as a propulsion method for micro flight

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Abstract

A propulsion system based on acoustic streaming generated by Helmholtz resonators is presented. High frequency (>60 kHz) electrostatically driven micromachined Helmholtz resonators constitute the basic unit of the system. Microjets produced at the exit of these resonators can be combined to form a distributed propulsion system. A high yield (>85%) fabrication process is introduced for fabrication of individual as well as arrays of resonators. The fabrication results for ten different designs are presented. About 1000 resonators of similar design cover the surface of a 4-in. wafer, effectively converting it to a distributed propulsion system. A number of characterization methods such as monitoring the harmonics of the drive current, laser interferometry, hot-wire anemometry, acoustic spectrum measurement and video particle imaging are used to determine the structural and fluidic behavior of different resonator designs. Collapse and recovery times of the diaphragm in the electrostatic actuator of the resonator are characterized and reduced to less than 10 μs by optimizing the perforation design. The occurrence of acoustic streaming in the micron-scale is verified via video particle imaging. The jet streams produced with pulse drive at low frequencies (~1 kHz) are spatially profiled and jet velocities exceeding 1 m/s are measured at the exit of the resonators. It has been verified that the resonance frequencies of the device at 50 and 175 kHz can be closely predicted by modeling.