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Controlling Stiction in Nano-Electro-Mechanical Systems Using Liquid Crystals

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posted on 21.11.2016, 00:00 by Oleksandr Buchnev, Nina Podoliak, Thomas Frank, Malgosia Kaczmarek, Liudi Jiang, Vassili A. Fedotov
Stiction is one of the major reliability issues limiting practical application of nano-electro-mechanical systems (NEMS), an emerging device technology that exploits mechanical movements on the scale of an integrated electronic circuit. We report on a discovery that stiction can be eliminated by infiltrating NEMS with nematic liquid crystals. We demonstrate this experimentally using a NEMS-based tunable photonic metamaterial, where reliable switching of optical response was achieved for the entire range of nanoscopic structural displacements admitted by the metamaterial design. Being a more straightforward and easy-to-implement alternative to the existing antistiction solutions, our approach also introduces an active mechanism of stiction control, which enables toggling between stiction-free and the usual (stiction-limited) regimes of NEMS operation. It is expected to greatly expand the functionality of electro-mechanical devices and enable the development of adaptive and smart nanosystems.