MEMS Electrostatic Motor : 2010

Photograph by

David Scharf

About this image

Scanning electron micrograph of a torsional ratcheting actuator, a kind of microscopic electrostatic motor. This is an example of a microelectromechanical system (MEMS), tiny moving devices created by technologies used to make computer chips. Here the interlocking combs on the electrodes alternate between attraction and repulsion in response to a rapidly changing electrostatic charge. A ratchet device means that an attached component rotates in only one direction, but with relatively high torque. Each electrode is about 100 micrometres long and 20-30 micrometres wide. The colours in this image come from multiple secondary detectors in the microscope through a system invented by Mr Scharf. David Scharf Photography, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A