Dry Actuation Testing of Viscous Drag Micropumping Systems for the Determination of Optimal Drive Waveforms

Brian D. Sosnowchik, Paul C. Galambos, Kendra V. Sharp, Mark W. Jenkins, Mark William Horn, Jason R. Hendrix

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This paper presents the dry actuation testing procedures and results for novel viscous drag micropumping systems. To overcome the limitations of previously developed mechanical pumps, we have developed pumps that are surface micromachined for efficient mass production which utilize viscous drag (dominant at low Reynolds numbers typical of microfluidics) to move fluid. The SUMMiT™ (www.sandia.gov/micromachine) fabricated pumps, presented first by Kilani et al. 1, are being experimentally and computationally analyzed. In this paper we will describe the development of optimal waveforms to drive the electrostatic pumping mechanism while dry. While wet actuation will be significantly different, dry testing provides insight into how to optimally move the mechanism and differences between dry and wet actuation can be used to isolate fluid effects. Characterization began with an analysis of the driving voltage waveforms for the torsional ratcheting actuator (TRA), a micro-motor that drove the gear transmission for the pump, actuated with SAMA™ (Sandia's Arbitrary waveform MEMS Actuator), a new waveform generating computer program with the ability to generate and output arbitrary voltage signals. Based upon previous research 2, a 50% duty cycle half-sine wave was initially selected for actuation of the TRA. However, due to the geometry of the half-sine waveform, the loaded micromotor could not transmit the motion required to pump the tested liquids. Six waveforms were then conceived, constructed, and selected for device actuation testing. Dry actuation tests included high voltage, low voltage, high frequency, and endurance/reliability testing of the TRA, gear transmission and pump assembly. In the SUMMIT™ process, all of the components of the system are fabricated together on one silicon chip already assembled in a monolithic microfabrication process. A 40% duty cycle quarter-sine waveform with a 20% DC at 60V has currently proved to be the most reliable, allowing for an 825Hz continuous TRA operating frequency for the micropumps. This novel waveform allowed for higher TRA actuation frequencies than those obtained in prior research of the pumps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - May 10 2004
EventMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems II - San Jose, CA., United States
Duration: Jan 26 2004Jan 27 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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