Microsystems Science & Technology Center

MEMS Video & Image Gallery

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MEMS Videos

  • Bugs on MEMS

    World's Smallest Mite-Go-Round

    Two dust mites taking a spin atop an optical shutter running at low speed. The mites' limbs are flailing due to the slickness of the silicon wafer.


    Aphid on Micromirror

    This aphid (considerably larger than the dust mites) crosses a micromirror, catching his feet on suspension springs as he travels. Note the mirror still operates after being bug-stomped.


    Spider Mite Crossing Large Gear

    This spider mite is on construction duty; as he crosses the large wheel, he leaves a gear guide for future assembly. Silly bug – doesn't he know that these systems are batch fabricated and no assembly is required?!


    Spider Mite Riding Large Wheel

    This spider mite decides to ride the large wheel as it reverses directions.





    Spider Mite Test

    This micromirror continues to be operational even after being tested by the spider mite.




    High Speed, Low Drag

    This clip shows that Sandia MEMS motors can rotate large wheels and drive a substantial load (the spider mite), all at very high speeds. Future wheels may include spider mite handrails.

  • Dynamic SEMS

    Comb Drive Close-up

    This is a close-up view of a microengine comb drive in operation. The visual contrast changes with the electrostatic charge.


    Comb Drive Wide Field

    This video presents a wider view of the visual contrast changes.




    Signal Lines

    The lines delivering the drive signal to the comb drives of our running microengine are visible in this video. As above, the visual contrast changes with the applied voltage.




    Bond Pad

    In the lower left corner of these frames, is the wire which transmits the drive signal from the power source. The wire is attached to the bond pad of the microengine, from which the signal flows along traces to the microengine.



    Gear Powered by Microengine

    This is a gear being driven by one of our microengines. The SEM provides unprecedented magnification, although when viewing moving objects, real-time, the detail visible is a fraction of that of a still image.


    Gear Hub Close-up

    This is a close-up look at the hub of a moving gear. The greatest advantage of running MEMS in an SEM is the ability to view wear on moving parts, real-time, at extreme magnifications.


    Linkage Arm and Comb Drive

    The linkage arm and comb drive, using our voltage visual contrast technique to show where the voltage is as it drives the engine.



    Comb Drive Wide View

    Here is a wider view of the microengine in operation, which more clearly shows how the voltage changes on the combs pull and release the engine so that it moves back and forth like a piston.

  • Gear Chains

    Six-gear Planar Train

    There is a trick to keeping the gears in this six-gear train correctly meshed when they are only about two microns thick – they are held in plane by flat guide plates which are mounted to the tops of the shafts.



    An Overview of the Six-gear Planar Train







    Six-gear planar train operating at variable working speeds.


    Six-gear planar train operating at a fast speed.


    Close-up video of the six-gear planar train in operation.






    Five-gear Planar Train

    In this clip is a chain of 5 gears of various sizes being driven by a microengine moving at the amazing speed of 60,000 RPM.



  • Gears & Transmissions

    Transmission Driving "Large" Gears

    Here a transmission drives two of our largest gears – each is more than a millimeter in diameter.



    Transmission Driving "Large" Gears - Clip Two

    The two large gears are being driven by a microengine operating at 6000 RPM. The transmission has been driven at speeds as high as 60,000 RPM.


    Spring Device

    Here a spring device is wound and unwound. Perhaps one day a micro-clock can be made with this type of mechanism.


    Spring Device - Clip Two

    In this video, the spring is wound and unwound by a microengine operating at 6000 RPM.



    Linked Gears

    Here, a transmission drives two linked gears while the microengine runs at 60,000 RPM.




    Torque Demonstration


    This is a microengine driving a gear approximately 40 times its own diameter, demonstrating the large torque it can produce.


    Microengine and Gears

    This microengine's drive gear is turning a 250-tooth gear more than 10X as large as itself. The speed of the drive gear is 600 RPM, and it has been operated as fast as 60,000 RPM.





    Microengine, Transmission, and Spring Device

    This video pans from the microengine driving the device, through a transmission that multiplies the torque, to a spring that winds-up and drives additional gears.


  • Linear Racks

    Linear Rack

    A comb drive actuator rotates a drive gear, which in turn drives a linear rack back and forth to its full extents.




    Linear Rack (High Speed Operation)

    The same linear rack as above, operating at full speed (less than 0.04 seconds travel time).


  • Mirrors

    Pop-up Silicon Mirror

    Force provided by a comb drive actuator moves a linear rack, which drives a hinged sheet of silicon back and forth. A HeNe optical-band (red) laser is focused at an angle such that as the mirror is elevated, the coherent light is reflected into the microscope's camera.


    Pop-up Silicon Mirror (High Speed Operation)

    The same pop-up mirror as above, this time operating at full speed. The high switch rate of the mirror (35 milliseconds) validates its potential for use in optical switching.


    Pop-up Silicon Mirror (High Speed Operation)

    Although just a blur, this is actually the mirror being raised and lowered by a microengine operating at over 100,000 RPM.


    Deflection of Laser Light

    Here a mirror is slowly raised and lowered to show the deflection of laser light.





    Pop-up Silicon Mirror

    In this video, the mirror is shown being elevated in less than two-thousandths of a second.






    Demonstration of Switching Speed

    The switching speed (time required to deflect optical energy) can range from 2.67 milliseconds for fullly raising and lowering the mirror to 1.18 milliseconds for smaller angle deflections.




    Microengine and Gears

    This microengine's drive gear is turning a 250-tooth gear more than 10X as large as itself. The speed of the drive gear is 600 RPM, and it has been operated as fast as 60,000 RPM.





    Microengine, Transmission, and Spring Device

    This video pans from the microengine driving the device, through a transmission that multiplies the torque, to a spring that winds-up and drives additional gears.


  • Motors

    Torsional Ratcheting Actuator

    The torsional ratcheting actuator (TRA) is running at a slow, constant speed. By visually following the dot on the outer ring which starts out at 3 o'clock position, the ring's rotation can be seen.



    Torsional Ratcheting Actuator Close-up

    In this close-up, the camera pans across the lower half of the TRA device. Again, it is running slowly so its motion is clearly visible.



    Torsional Ratcheting Actuator

    As the camera finishes panning to the bottom right corner of the TRA, you can see our Sandia National Laboratories Thunderbird Logo. To put the size of the TRA in perspective, it is approximately one-third the size of our comb drive microengines.




    Torsional Ratcheting Actuator

    In this video and the next, the TRA is put through its paces; the TRA's speed is doubled at regular intervals – from a 1 Hz drive signal up to 640 Hz – then it is slowed down again.





    Torsional Ratcheting Actuator

    Please note that the dot on the outer ring is moving almost too fast to see! We have operated the TRA with drive signals in the low kHz range, and will be able to increase that still further with future refinements.



    Torsional Ratcheting Actuator Pawl Close-up

    In this close-up of the ratcheting pawl (with black dot) operating at low speed, it is possible to see that with each cycle it pulls one tooth on the outer ring.


    Rotary Motor

    The rotary motor is operating at various speeds in this video.



    Rotary Motor

    In this video, the camera pans to the center of the rotary motor and then out to its edge.


    A Newer Version of our Rotary Motor

    The rotary motor operating at high speed.



    A Newer Version of our Rotary Motor

    The rotary motor operating at medium speed.


    A Newer Version of our Rotary Motor

    The rotary motor operating at slow speed.


    Wedge Indexing Motor (Slow)





    Wedge Indexing Motor (Medium)

  • Optical Encoders/Shutters

    High Speed Optical Shutter

    The optical shutter directs a beam of light by passing it through apertures in the shutter. Here we demonstrate (real-time footage!) a switching time of 35 milliseconds.


    2-Bit Binary Encoder

    The binary encoder wheel stops in any of four positions, each of which is associated with a particular shutter aperture. A single beam of light would be capable of up to four signals based on the wheel's orientation.

    2-Bit Binary Encoder (High Speed Operation)

    Same encoder as above, operating at an incredible switching speed of 500 microseconds! Sound waves travel about six inches in that amount of time.

  • Steam Engines

    World's Smallest Microsteam Engine

    Water inside of the compression cylinder is heated by a flow of electric current and vaporizes, pushing the piston out. Capillary forces then retract the piston when the current is not flowing.

  • Rotating Stages

    Opal

    The video shows micromirrors that are erected on a rotating stage. A torsional ratchting actuator (TRA) and a gear transmission are used to turn the stage. The angled mirrors reflect a green LED that is positioned to reflect light into a video camera.


    Short Stage

    In this video clip a 16 mg solder ball that hangs over the edge of the stage had been placed on top. The actuators are still able to rotate the stage with the large (for MEMS) additional load and friction.




    Plate Gyro

    This video shows a capacitively coupled MEMS rotating stage with an on-board accelerometer. A thermally actuated ratchet rotates the stage in precise increments utilizing a 7 V square wave signal.


    Plate Gyro with Si

    A small silicon part has been placed on top of the rotating stage in this expanded view video. The two thermal actuators can be seen ratcheting the stage through a few degrees of rotation.


    Plate Gyro with Solder Ball

    In this video a 2 mg solder ball has been placed on the stage. The actuators have no problem rotating the stage with the added weight and resulting friction.

MEMS Images

  • Bugs on MEMS

    Mirror Mechanism with a Spider Mite
    Spider mite with legs on a mirror drive assembly.
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    Drive Mechanism Dwarfed by Mite!
    The tiny gears are dwarfed by a spider mite.
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    Another Example of a Bug and a Mechanism
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    A Gear Chain with a Mite Approaching
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    A Second View of the Mite Approaching the Gear Chain
    Please note the relative size of the gears and the mite
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    Spider Mite and Gears
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    Spider Mite on Mirror Assembly
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  • Dynamometer

    Micromachined Dynamometer
    This micromachined dynamometer is used to determine the coefficient of friction by measuring the normal and tangential forces.
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    Dynamometer Beam
    The beam shown exerts a normal force on the smooth "gear" of the microengine.
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    Flex Link Close-up
    The standard microengine flex link is shown here, and is used to rotate the smooth "gear."
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    Pin Joint Close-up
    This is a close-up look at the pin joint on the smooth "gear."
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    Dynamometer Verniers
    Verniers for measuring deflection used to calculate the tangential force.
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    Vernier Close-up
    Close-up of parallel vernier structure.
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    Dynamometer Verniers
    Verniers for measuring deflection used to calculate the normal force.
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    Vernier Close-up
    Close-up view of one vernier; the teeth are 2 microns wide and the spaces between them measure 4 microns.
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    Contrast of Textures
    In this image the texture differences between vertical and horizontal surfaces are visible.
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  • Gears & Transmissions

    Multiple Gear Speed Reduction Unit
    Top view of gear reduction unit.
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    Linear Rack Gear Reduction Drive
    This gear chain converts rotational motion (top left) to linear motion, thereby driving a linear rack (lower right).
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    Do MEMS Have Dimples?
    Yes. We call them dimples, but actually they are tiny bumps. This one minimizes microscopic tilt and wobble of a rotating gear.
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    Alignment Clip
    Meshing MEMS gears is similar to meshing two sheets of paper; they are very thin and must be precisely positioned. We use alignment clips to ensure these co-planar gears remain in plane and meshed.
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    Alignment Clip
    This alignment clip is used in conjunction with a transmission (please note that there are 2 layers of gears). This complex device is entirely batch-fabricated, with no assembly required. Simply amazing!
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    Alignment Clip
    The structural layers supporting the clip indicate the precision achieved in fabricating MEMS.
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    Engine Driving a Transmission
    The microengine pinion gear (lower right hand corner) drives this 10:1 transmission.
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    Dual Drive Gears
    Two small gears rotate the large gear in the middle. This necessitates synchronizing four comb drives!
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    Alignment Clip
    This is another type of clip designed to keep gears in plane and meshed with each other.
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    Wedge Clamp
    This fancy looking clamp is actually a very simple device used to keep meshed gears co-planar.
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    Close-up of Transmission
    The triangular holes that you see in this image were necessary because this transmission was fabricated before we invented planarized polysilicon.
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    Close-up of Transmission
    A microengine drives this 10:1 transmission.
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    Six-gear Chain
    All gears are driven sequentially by the drive gear (top center). The fixed guide plates (mounted to the tops of the gears' shafts) are clearly visible. Gear chains such as this one have been driven at speeds up to 250,000 RPM.
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    Six-gear Chain Close-up
    Close-up of the chain of meshed gears, and the guide plates.
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    Six-gear Chain
    View of six-gear chain, slightly from the side, showing the thickness of the gears.
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    Five-gear Chain
    One of the first gear chains fabricated at Sandia, consisting of five gears in a linear arrangement.
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  • Indexing Motors

    Indexing Motor - 2nd View
    The indexing teeth on both sides of the gear are clearly visible. These teeth are key to the gear indexing forward one unit at a time.
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    Close-up of One of the Index Teeth
    One of the indexing teeth is meshed with the gear at all times - this maintains the position of the index.
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    An Incredible Close-up of the Indexing Gear
    In this view we can see the index gear is slightly inserted into the well.
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    Indexing Motor - Color View
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  • Linear Racks

    Linear Rack and Drive Mechanism
    The comb drives (top and right) rotate the main drive gear, which is meshed with a linear rack. This mechanism converts rotational motion into linear motion to perform work.
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    Linear Rack Close-up
    Close-up of linear rack, rack guides, drive gear, and drive linkage.
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    Drive Gear
    A close-up of the drive gear, linear rack and guide.
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    Drive Gear Interaction
    The meshed gear teeth of the drive gear and the linear rack.
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    Rack Height
    This view was captured at an angle to show the relative height of the device over the plane of the wafer.
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    Rack Structure
    This close-up SEM allows us to see the 3D structure of the linear rack.
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    Teeth in Detail
    Here is a close-up of the teeth on the linear rack.
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    Double-sided Rack
    A two-sided rack that is propelled by a transmission and drives a mirror up, out of plane.
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    Single-sided Rack
    The gear driving this single-sided linear rack is positioned at approximately a 45 degree angle to the rack.
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    Rack Close-up
    A close-up view of the single-sided linear rack.
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    Rack Structure
    This image, taken at an angle, shows the multi-layered structure of a linear rack.
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  • Microengines

    Close-up of Drive Gear Hub
    A pin joint connects the drive arm to a rotating gear.
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    Grain of Pollen and Red Blood Cells
    Drive gear chain and linkages, with a grain of pollen (top right) and coagulated red blood cells (lower right, top left) to demonstrate scale.
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    Two-layer Springs
    Two-layer construction of springs provides greater out-of-plane stiffness, reducing stiction. At upper left, a travel stop limits lateral range of motion of spring.
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    19-tooth Gear, and Linkage Arms of the Microengine
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    Meshed Gears
    A microengine gear meshes with another gear.
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    Retaining Clips
    A drive gear rotates the large gear. Clips keep the large gear in-plane.
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    Gear Tooth Close-up
    Close-up view of a gear tooth of a microengine.
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    Drive Gear Side View
    Side view of a microengine drive gear meshed with another gear.
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    Drive Gear, Pin Joint, and Hub
    A microengine drive gear, pin joint, and hub are all seen from the linkage arm side, illustrating just how they fit together.
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    Drive Gears
    This drive gear rotates a gear that is about ten times larger in diameter.
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    Microengine
    This view of the microengine includes the drive arms, the pin joint and the drive gear.
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    Meshed Gears Close-up
    A drive gear meshed with another gear, close-up view.
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    Air-Cushioned Gear
    The spiral grooves in this drive gear channel air to the center of the gear; the air then provides a cushion.
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    Comb Drives
    Comb drives of a 3-layer polysilicon microengine are shown here. The springs in the center provide the restoring force, returning the electrostatic comb teeth to their original position.
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    Travel Stop
    This small component is a travel stop, used to limit the lateral displacement of the comb springs.
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    Comb Drive Springs Close-up
    This is an extreme close-up of the comb drive springs. An interconnect between layers is included in this view.
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    Comb Drive Springs
    In this view of the comb springs, the interconnect is visible.
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    Comb Drive Springs
    This view of the corner of comb drive springs shows that springs fabricated in the 5-layer surface micromachining process have an additional structural layer.
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    Travel Stops and Comb Springs
    Travel stops and comb springs of a device fabricated in the 5-layer process are shown here.
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    Comb Drives and Springs
    Although fabricated in the 5-layer process, the resulting structures are not far off the wafer substrate. Powerful magnification is necessary to see these comb drives and springs.
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    Pin Attachment Point
    The pin connects to the drive gear of the microengine at just one point. The rest of the linkage hovers over the gear, allowing it to move freely.
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    Flex Joint
    A flex joint is shown attached to a drive gear. Flex links develop little friction because they are devoid of moving parts.
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  • Mirrors

    Silicon Mirror and Drive System
    A mirror system design; in this system the mirror is elevated by a three-gear torque-multiplying system. The mirror is shown in the upright position.
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    Silicon Mirror Assembly Close-up
    Close-up view of previous device; detail of rails and hinges is visible.
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    Polysilicon Mirror Assembly Close-up
    A fixed-end view of the elevated mirror and the drive assembly.
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    Hinged Polysilicon Mirror and Drive Motors
    Polysilicon layers fabricated to "fold" on hinges as motors drive linear racks, thereby tilting the flat mirror structure out of plane.
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    Polysilicon Mirror Hinge Close-up
    High-magnification view of one of the hinges on our mirrors.
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    Pop-up Polysilicon Mirror
    Aerial view of a pop-up mirror.
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    Transmission, Rack, and Polysilicon Mirror
    The transmission and linear rack elevate the mirror located in the lower-right of the frame.
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    Pop-up Polysilicon Mirror
    This image of a pop-up mirror, taken at an angle, includes the Sandia National Laboratories Thunderbird Logo and the hinges on the linear rack.
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    Polysilicon Mirror Hinge
    Please note the complex design of the hinge. This device is batch fabricated, with no assembly required.
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  • Optical Encoders/Shutters

    Optical Encoders
    Four optical encoder wheels. Each wheel has four positions (00, 01, 10, 11) which can be switched mechanically. One of four signals from fixed-position lasers will be reflected, based on the position of the main encoder wheel..
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    Optical Encoder
    Close-up of an optical encoder gear.
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    Optical Shutter Device
    In this image are the comb drive motors, linkage mechanisms, and the large optical shutter. Because of the guide rails, the shutter can be rotated at very high speeds.
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    Close-up of Optical Shutter and Guide Tails
    The guide rails are necessary to keep the optical shutter (large) gear from tilting out of plane when torque is applied by the drive (small) gear.
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    Optical Shutter and Drive Gear
    Please note the intricate design of the hub of the drive gear.
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    Close-up of Optical Shutter and Drive Gear
    In this image it is possible to see the clamp attached to the substrate, and the pin joint and hub fit together.
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  • Steam Engines

    Triple-Piston Microsteam Engine
    Water inside of three compression cylinders is heated by electric current and vaporizes, pushing the piston out. Capillary forces then retract the piston once current is removed.
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    Single-Piston Microsteam Engine
    A single-piston steam engine.
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  • Torsional Ratcheting Actuator

    The Torsional Ratcheting Actuator (TRA)
    The TRA uses a rotationally vibrating (oscillating) inner frame to ratchet its surrounding ring gear. Charging and discharging the inner interdigitated comb fingers causes this vibration.
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    Angle View
    Visible in this image: the outer ring gear along with (front to back):a pointer that indicates the degrees of oscillation of the inner frame, the electrical interconnect that supplies power to the engine, and a clip that holds the ring in place.
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    Force Testing Mechanism
    A spring scale after it has been distorted by the force produced by the TRA.
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    Force Testing Mechanism
    This is a close-up view of the linear rack that delivers the TRA's force to the spring scale so that it can be measured.
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    Ratchet Pawl
    In this image, one of the TRA's ratchet pawls is visible. The pawls convert the small oscillations of the inside frame into a continuous rotation of the surrounding gear.
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    Gear Constraint
    This is a close-up of one of the clips that hold the outer ring gear in plane.
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    Electrical Interconnect
    The arm, or beam, in the center of this image is an electrical interconnect that delivers electrical signals which power the TRA.
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    Electrical Interconnect
    This is another view of the electric interconnect.
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    Angle Indicator
    This pointer indicates the number of degrees of oscillation of the inner frame.
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    Anti-reverse Mechanism
    This anti-reverse mechanism ensures that the ring gear can rotate in only one direction.
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