A facility to characterize microelectromechanical system (MEMS) thermal switches by measuring two pertinent figures of merit is described. The two figures of merit measured are the ratio of thermal resistance of the switch in the off and on states, Roff Ron, and the time required to switch from the off to the on state, τswitch. The facility consists of two pieces of equipment. A guard-heated calorimeter is used to measure heat transfer across the thermal switch under steady-state conditions. Measuring heat transfer across a thermal switch in both the off and on states then gives the thermal resistance ratio Roff Ron. A thin-film radial heat-flux sensor is used to measure heat transfer across the thermal switch under dynamic conditions. Measuring heat transfer across a thermal switch as the switch changes from the off to the on state gives the thermal switching time τswitch. The test facilities enable the control of the applied force on the thermal switch when the thermal switch is on, the thickness of the gas gap when the thermal switch is off, and the gas species and pressure in the thermal switch gas gap. The thermal performance of two MEMS thermal switches employing two different thermal contact materials, a polished silicon surface and an array of liquid-metal microdroplets, is characterized and compared.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the U.S. Army SMDC under Contract No. DASG60-02-C0001 and the NSF under Grant No. CTS-0404370.