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Experimental Mechanics

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This paper examines a passive cooling technique using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for localized thermal management of electronic devices. The prototype was designed using analytic equations, simulated using finite element methods (FEM), and fabricated using the commercial PolyMUMPs™ process. The system consisted of an electronic device simulator (EDS) and MEMS bimorph cantilever beams (MBCB) array with beams lengths of 200, 250, and 300 μm that were tested to characterize deflection and thermal behavior. The specific beam lengths were chosen to actuate in response to heating associated with the EDS (i.e. the longest beams actuated first corresponding to the hottest portion of the EDS). The results show that the beams deflected as designed when thermally actuated and effectively transferred heat away via thermal conduction. The temperature when the beams reached “net-zero” deflection (i.e. uncurled and flat) was related to the initial deflection distance while the contact deflection temperature and rate of actuation was related to beam length. Initial beam deflections, after release, and contact temperatures, when fully actuated, were approximately 5.05, 9.45, 14.05 μm, and 231, 222, 216 °C, respectively with the longer beams making contact first. This innovative passive thermal management system enables selective device cooling without requiring active control or forced convection to maintain steady-state operating temperatures for sensitive microelectronic devices.


Published version. Experimental Mechanics, Vol. 56, No. 7 (September 2016): 1293-1303. DOI. © 2018 Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Part of Springer Nature.

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Ronald A. Coutu was affiliated with Air Force Institute of Technology at the time of publication.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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