Vertical electrostatic wedge actuators are described that control nanometer-scale gaps between surfaces. Standard parallel-plate electrostatic actuators become difficult to stabilize across extremely small gaps because the nature of the forces and the force laws that describe them often deviate from a Coulomb's law dependence. In this work, a nanometer-scale air gap between a collapsed cantilever structure formed by two facing In0.53Ga 0.47As surfaces, with areas of tens of microns, was controlled by a wedge electrostatic actuator. Upon actuation, the gap spacing between the surfaces was tuned over a maximum range of 55 nm with an applied voltage of 60 V.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank the National Science Foundation for support under Project code ECCS 0702515 and Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment for support under Grant No. RL-0019-09. The work of M. J. Saarinen was supported by the Academy of Finland under Project No. 119915. This work is an expansion on material presented at the 2011 and 2012 International Conferences on Optical MEMS and Nanophotonics.