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µSAM — Result In Brief

Project ID: 287100
Funded under: FP7-JTI
Country: Germany

Miniaturising air jet devices

Scientists developed models enabling them to downscale an important flow control device, the synthetic jet, using microtechnology to increase flow velocity while decreasing weight. The technology has applications in aerospace, sensors and electronics.
Miniaturising air jet devices
Synthetic jet actuators (SJAs) are microfluidic devices that create artificial jets of air. They have simple designs, consisting of a cavity with a membrane at one end and a small hole at the other. The membrane is forced to oscillate, pushing or pulling fluid through the orifice and creating a vortex. SJAs have been extensively studied for use as active airflow modulators in aircraft to enhance lift and reduce noise.

Scientists introduced the EU-funded project 'Micro synthetic jet actuator manufacturing' (MSAM) to transform the SJA concept into a micro-SJA based on silicon (Si) wafer technology. This will increase exit velocity while decreasing overall weight.

Researchers optimised the two subsystems, the piezoelectric transducer–microelectromechanical system (MEMS) to generate the flow and the overall cavity geometry and exit nozzle to increase velocity with modelling and simulation based on the lumped element method (LEM). The cavity and diaphragm were micro-machined and wafer-bonded to form the actuator. The piezoelectric ceramic element was then integrated into the micro-machined thin silicon membrane with a novel bonding process to allow propagation of the deflection with minimal loss. Characterisation demonstrated the ability of the micro-SJA devices to generate increased exit velocities, supporting their use in active flow control.

MSAM scientists successfully designed, manufactured and tested micro-SJAs using piezoelectric ceramics and silicon substrates. Results of velocity tests validate the design concept for SJAs exploiting microtechnology and the manufacturing process for Si wafers and effective bonding of system components.

The project has also contributed valuable micro-SJA modelling tools that were previously lacking. Overall, the project's technology and tools are expected to pave the way to a variety of novel applications for piezoelectric ceramics and MEMS technology in fields such as acoustical and optical microsystems and motion sensors.

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