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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Bistable elements are candidate structures for the evolving field of MEMS-based no-power event-driven sensors. In this paper, we present a strategy for producing bistable elements and investigate two compatible bilayer material systems for their realization using MEMS technology. Both bilayer systems leverage thermally-grown silicon dioxide as the principal stress-producing layer and a second material (either polyimide or aluminum) as the main structural layer. Arrays of buckled circular diaphragms, ranging in diameter from 100μm to 700μm in 50μm increments, were fabricated and their performances were compared to modeled and FEA-simulated results. In all cases, the diaphragms buckled when DRIE-released as expected, and their buckled experimental heights were within 9.1% of the theory and 1.8% of the FEA prediction. Interestingly, the smaller diameter structures exhibited a directional bias which we investigate and forecast using FEA. These bistable mechanical elements have the ability to serve as building blocks for no-power threshold-driven smart switches. New contributions to the field include: (a) introduction of a new bistable material system made from aluminum and compressive oxide, (b) investigation of diaphragm diameter size as it related to the phenomena of bistability versus non-bistability, (c) FEA analysis of the critical transition between bistability and non-bistability, and (d) introduction of the ‘dome factor’ term to describe dome quality.

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  3. Vibration-based energy harvesting via microelectromechanical system- (MEMS-) scale devices presents numerous challenges due to difficulties in maximizing power output at low driving frequencies. This work investigates the performance of a uniquely designed microscale bistable vibration energy harvester featuring a central buckled beam coated with a piezoelectric layer. In this design, the central beam is pinned at its midpoint by using a torsional rod, which in turn is connected to two cantilever arms designed to induce bistable motion of the central buckled beam. The ability to induce switching between stable states is a critical strategy for boosting power output of MEMS. This study presents the formulation of a model to analyze the static and dynamic behaviors of the coupled structure, with a focus on the evolution of elongation strain within the piezoelectric layer. Cases of various initial buckling stress levels, driving frequencies, and driving amplitude were considered to identify regimes of viable energy harvesting. Results showed that bistable-state switching, or snap-through motion of the buckled beam, produced a significant increase in power production potential over a range of driving frequencies. These results indicate that optimal vibration scavenging requires an approach that balances the initial buckling stress level with the expected range of driving frequencies for a particular environment. 
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