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Analysis and characterization of an electrostatically actuated in-plane parylene microvalve

This paper presents analysis and implementation of a simple electrostatic microvalve designed for use in parylene-based lab-on-a-chip devices. The microvalve utilizes an in-plane collapsing diaphragm. To investigate the pull-in behavior of the diaphragm and flow characteristics, a thorough analysis is carried out using the finite element method. Microvalves with different diaphragm radii are fabricated using surface micromachining techniques. Pull-in tests are carried out under the no-flow condition with air, oil and water as the working fluid. Test results show that the pull-in occurs around 20 V for 450 mu m radius diaphragms with oil and air. However, it is not possible to observe pull-in up to 100 V (both ac and dc) for the case of water as the working fluid, due to its relatively high dielectric constant and conductivity. The flow tests show that no leakage flow was observed up to 4 kPa inlet pressure under 85 V actuation potential. The leakage ratio becomes 17% at 10 kPa inlet pressure. It is observed that the leakage can be reduced controllably by increasing the actuation potential, enabling the precise control of the flow rate.