Characterization of the performance of capacitive switches activated by mechanical shock

Mohammad I. Younis*, Fadi M. Alsaleem, Ronald Miles, Quang Su

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


This paper presents experimental and theoretical investigation of a new concept of switches (triggers) that are actuated at or beyond a specific level of mechanical shock or acceleration. The principle of operation of the switches is based on dynamic pull-in instability induced by the combined interaction between electrostatic and mechanical shock forces. These switches can be tuned to be activated at various shock and acceleration thresholds by adjusting the dc voltage bias. Two commercial off-the-shelf capacitive accelerometers operating in air are tested under mechanical shock and electrostatic loading. A single-degree-of-freedom model accounting for squeeze-film damping, electrostatic forces and mechanical shock is utilized for the theoretical investigation. Good agreement is found between simulation results and experimental data. Our results indicate that designing these new switches to respond quasi-statically to mechanical shock makes them robust against variations in shock shape and duration. More importantly, quasi-static operation makes the switches insensitive to variations in damping conditions. This is promising for lowering the cost of packaging for these switches since they can operate in atmospheric pressure with no hermetic sealing or costly packaging required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number019
Pages (from-to)1360-1370
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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