Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Science (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



This dissertation reports a research effort to microfabricate an electromagnetic relay for power applications using a multilayer UV-LIGA process. A mechanically wrapped coil was used and very simple design for the magnetic circuit was adopted to increase the design flexibility and performances. The broad material selection and the capability of making high aspect ratio microstructures of the UV-LIGA make the technology best suited for fabricating microelectromechanical power relays. Fabrication of the device required significant advances in the optical lithography of SU-8 negative photoresist. Research proved that aspect-ratios up to 40:1 in isolated open field structures of thickness between 1 and 1.5 mm can be obtained a standard broadband UV source. The principal factor in this achievement is the reduction of internal stress during the post-exposure bake process that eliminates large plastic deformations present during standard bake procedures. Another challenging issue associated with producing high aspect ratio microstructures is the development narrow groves and deep holes in SU-8 lithography. To overcome this obstacle, megasonic agitation was applied to the developer bath, which resulted in faster development rates, more uniform development, and the ability to produce structures with higher aspect ratios. To date, this process has been used to achieve 100:1 aspect ratio open field features and 45:1 intact cylinder arrays. A multi-layer SU-8 optical lithography and metal electrodeposition process was developed to fabricate the relay. The design required implementation of high aspect ratio lithographic processing techniques to produce a tall nickel magnetic core and insulated magnetic cup in which a pre-wrapped solenoid would be placed for electromagnetic driving. After insertion of the solenoid a Ni-Fe actuator was bonded to the relay base to complete the device. To better understand the fatigue life of electroplated microstructures, a theoretical model was developed determine the possible fracture mechanics properties and fatigue life of LIGA fabricated nickel and nickel-iron alloys for use in microsystems applications. The prototype micro-relays were tested for the dynamic characteristics and power capacity. The experimental results have confirmed that reasonably large current capacity and fast response speed can be achieved using electromagnetic actuation and the multi-layer UV-LIGA fabrication process developed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

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Committee Chair

Wanjun Wang