Microelectromechanical flexible membrane electrostatic valve device and related fabrication methods
A MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System) valve device driven by electrostatic forces is provided. This valve device can provide for fast actuation, large valve force and large displacements while utilizing minimal power. The MEMS valve device includes a substrate having an aperture formed therein, a substrate electrode, a moveable membrane that overlies the aperture and has an electrode element and a biasing element. Additionally, at least one resiliently compressible dielectric layer is provided to insure electrical isolation between the substrate electrode and electrode element of the moveable membrane. In operation, a voltage differential is established between the substrate electrode and the electrode element of the moveable membrane to move the membrane relative to the aperture to thereby controllably adjust the portion of the aperture that is covered by the membrane. Additional embodiments provide for the resiliently compressible dielectric layer to be formed on either or both the substrate electrode and the moveable membrane and provide for either or both the valve seat surface and the valve seal surface. In yet another embodiment the resiliently compressible dielectric layer(s) have a textured surface; either at the valve seat, the valve seal or at both surfaces. In another embodiment of the invention a pressure-relieving aperture is defined within the substrate and is positioned to underlie the moveable membrane. Alternatively, additional embodiments of the present invention provide for MEMS valve arrays driven by electrostatic forces. The MEMS valve array comprises a substrate having a plurality of apertures defined therein. A method for making the MEMS valve device is also provided.