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A Nanoscopic Rotary Electrostatic Motor

Wright, J.H. and Sheehan, D.P.
University of San Diego - Math / Computer Science, US

Keywords: mems nanotechnology motor power propulsion

A Nanoscopic Rotary Electrostatic Motor [J.H. Wright (Dept. Mathematics and Computer Science), and D.P. Sheehan (Dept. Physics), University of San Diego, San Diego, CA 92110] A novel, rotary, sub-micron, solid-state motor is introduced that uses the electric field energy of an open-gap p-n junction (Sheehan, Putnam and Wright, Found. Phys. 32 p. 1557, 2002). The open-gap voltage may be provided either via external bias or via the thermally generated electric field inherent in the depletion region of a standard p-n junction. Through variation of design parameters or applied external bias, the mechanical output power can be adjusted through several orders of magnitude, in excess of 10^(-8) W for device size scales ranging from 10^(-7) to 10^(-4) m per side, with corresponding high power densities in excess of 1 GW/m^3. Basic motor operation is derived using an analytic 1-D model and a numerical 2-D model. Potential applications include mechanical drives for micro- and nano-scale machines and manipulators; microfluid and thermal pumps; propulsion and inertial guidance of machines; thermal sensors; and high-frequency oscillators. Analysis indicates frequency can be controlled by voltage, with upper-limit frequencies in excess of 50MHz. Laboratory tests and construction of this device appear feasible in the near term.

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