Gas micropumps are needed in many emerging applications, including gas chromatography, resonant/IR sensors, atomic clocks, and mass spectrometers. High pressure and flow are important requirements, which in turn require large-stroke and/or high-frequency actuators with low power consumption and small size. Previous gas micropumps exhibit limited capabilities due to use of bulky actuators, often were slow or power/size inefficient, and lacked scaling/integration capabilities. Our group introduced the first electrostatic peristaltic gas micropump, which utilized fluidic resonance and a multi-stage configuration to achieve the highest recorded flow and pressure in a low-power and small-volume system. However, it had inherent limitations in scalability, sealing and yield due to challenging alignment and bonding.
This project seeks to develop a MEMS pump that can be used as the roughing pump in a three-part micro-scale vacuum system. The new pump utilizes the same operating principle as previously reported, but with major modifications in device architecture, totally new fabrication technology and modular assembly/packaging. The modular fabrication technology has a final process yield of 90% with a high throughput and high control over critical design parameters (<5% error). Moreover, the device total size is 60% smaller than the old design, due to the use of a novel honeycomb planar architecture. Under preliminary testing, the microfabricated 24-stage pump successfully produced a flow rate of 0.36 sccm and a pressure accumulation of ~500 Pa at 22 kHz. This work is supported by the DARPA CSVMP program under grant #W31P4Q-09-1-0011.