Nonlinear Mechanics of MEMS Rectangular Microplates under Electrostatic Actuation

  • Shahid Saghir

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The first objective of the dissertation is to develop a suitable reduced order model capable of investigating the nonlinear mechanical behavior of von-Karman plates under electrostatic actuation. The second objective is to investigate the nonlinear static and dynamic behavior of rectangular microplates under small and large actuating forces. In the first part, we present and compare various approaches to develop reduced order models for the nonlinear von-Karman rectangular microplates actuated by nonlinear electrostatic forces. The reduced-order models aim to investigate the static and dynamic behavior of the plate under small and large actuation forces. A fully clamped microplate is considered. Different types of basis functions are used in conjunction with the Galerkin method to discretize the governing equations. First we investigate the convergence with the number of modes retained in the model. Then for validation purpose, a comparison of the static results is made with the results calculated by a nonlinear finite element model. The linear eigenvalue problem for the plate under the electrostatic force is solved for a wide range of voltages up to pull-in. In the second part, we present an investigation of the static and dynamic behavior of a fully clamped microplate. We investigate the effect of different non-dimensional design parameters on the static response. The forced-vibration response of the plate is then investigated when the plate is excited by a harmonic AC load superimposed to a DC load. The dynamic behavior is examined near the primary and secondary (superharmonic and subharmonic) resonances. The microplate shows a strong hardening behavior due to the cubic nonlinearity of midplane stretching. However, the behavior switches to softening as the DC load is increased. Next, near-square plates are studied to understand the effect of geometric imperfections of microplates. In the final part of the dissertation, we investigate the mechanical behavior of initially curved microplates. Microplates often experience an initial curvature imperfection, due to the micro fabrication process, which affects significantly their mechanical behavior. In this case a clamped-free-clamped-free microplate is considered. We validate the reduced order model by comparing the calculated static behavior and the fundamental natural frequency with those computed by a finite element model. As case studies, we consider two commonly encountered profiles of the initial curvature imperfection and study their effects on both the static and dynamic responses of the microplates. Next, an initially curved microplate made of silicon nitride is studied. The static behavior of the microplate is investigated when applying a DC voltage. Then, the dynamic behavior of the microplate is examined under the application of a harmonic AC voltage, superimposed to a DC voltage. Simulation results calculated by the reduced order model are compared with experimental data for model validation purpose, which show good agreement.
Date of AwardDec 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMohammad Younis (Supervisor)


  • non linear mechanics
  • microplates
  • MEMS
  • Electrostatic force
  • Dynamics
  • non linear vibrations

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