High aspect ratio integrated force arrays

S. M. Bobbio, S. W. Smith, J. M. Zara, S. Goodwin-Johansson, K. L. Gentry, J. Hudak, M. Kerns, P. C. Elliott, B. J. Rouse, R. T. Borno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Integrated Force Array (IFA) is a metallized polyimide actuator made up of a large array of capacitive cells that deform when voltage is applied. The deformations of the individual cells add to produce an overall muscle-like compression of the array. In previously reported work deformations of up to 30% have been realized and the IFAs have been used as mechanical scanners in ultrasound imaging systems. The gaps of the capacitive cells are etched directly into the polyimide and oriented perpendicular to the plane of the array. Metal is deposited on the sidewalls of the etched features in order to form the plates of each capacitor. The force associated with the IFA motion is directly proportional to the height of the sidewall metal and thus to the thickness of the membrane. Until now, the thickness has been 2μm with gap widths of 1μm. In recent work, much higher aspect ratio IFAs (thicker but with the same gap width) have been fabricated in order to produce devices that operate with greater force and are much more robust devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-308
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 16 2001


  • Actuator
  • Artificial muscle
  • Effector
  • Synthetic muscle
  • Transducer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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