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DOI 10.1007/s1107101098330
ORI GI NAL PAPER
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch
for RFapplications with low actuation voltage
Hatem Samaali · Fehmi Najar · Slim Choura ·
Ali H. Nayfeh · Mohamed Masmoudi
Received: 21 December 2009 / Accepted: 1 September 2010 / Published online: 21 September 2010
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Abstract In this paper, we propose the design of an
ohmic contact RF microswitch with low voltage ac
tuation, where the upper and lower microplates are
displaceable. We develop a mathematical model for
the RF microswitch made up of two electrostatically
actuated microplates; each microplate is attached to
the end of a microcantilever. We assume that the mi
crobeams are ﬂexible and that the microplates are
rigid. The electrostatic force applied between the two
microplates is a nonlinear function of the displace
ments and applied voltage. We formulate and solve
the static and eigenvalue problems associated with the
proposed microsystem. We also examine the dynamic
behavior of the microswitch by calculating the limit
cycle solutions. We discretize the equations of motion
by considering the ﬁrst few dominant modes in the mi
crosystem dynamics. We show that only two modes
are sufﬁcient to accurately simulate the response of the
H. Samaali () · S. Choura · M. Masmoudi
Micro Electro Thermal Systems Research Unit, National
Engineering School of Sfax, BP 3038, Sfax, Tunisia
email: hatem.samaali@ept.rnu.tn
F. Najar
Applied Mechanics and Systems Research Laboratory,
Tunisia Polytechnic School, BP 743, La Marsa 2078,
Tunisia
A.H. Nayfeh
Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics,
MC 0219, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
microsystemunder DCand harmonic ACvoltages. We
demonstrate that the resulting static pullin voltage and
switching time are reduced by 30 and 45%, respec
tively, as compared to those of a single microbeam
microplate RFmicroswitch. Finally, we investigate
the global stability of the microswitch using different
excitation conditions.
Keywords MEMS · Microswitch · Pullin · Pullout ·
Reducedorder model
1 Introduction
In recent years, the application of microelectro
mechanical systems (MEMS) to radio frequency (RF)
components has been developed, especially for RF
MEMS switches. Traditional microelectronic switch
es, such as silicon FETs (ﬁeld effect transistors)
and PIN (positiveintrinsicnegative) diode switches
present inadequate switching characteristics when the
signal frequency is greater than 1 GHz [1]. These
switches present high insertion loss and poor isolation
during the ON and OFF switching, whereas switches
fabricated by MEMS technology can overcome these
limitations [2, 3]. For instance, RFMEMS switches
provide improved insertion loss, isolation, and linear
ity, but they are limited because of their high actu
ation voltage (up to 30 V) and slow switching time
(near 300 microseconds). Recent studies focused on
720 H. Samaali et al.
improving the switching time, minimizing the actua
tion voltage, and integrating RFMEMS switches with
integrated circuits (IC) [4].
In the literature, different types of RFmicroswitch
es with a variety of actuation mechanisms (electro
static, magnetostatic, piezoelectric, or thermal), con
tact modes (capacitive or ohmic contact), and cir
cuit implementation (shunt or series) are identiﬁed.
Electrostatic actuation is the most used type in RF
microswitches. However, this type requires relatively
high DC voltage (up to 30 V), and thus requires an
additional CMOS integrated upconverter to raise the
typical 5 Volt control voltage to the required level.
All electrostatically actuated RFmicroswitches are
based on an outofplane suspension bridge or can
tilever type [5]. The cantilever type, which is char
acterized by less rigidity as compared to the suspen
sion bridge, yields a reduced actuation voltage but in
creases the switching time. The ohmic contact mode
is suitable for this type of switches since it leads to
very low ON state insertion loss and very high OFF
state isolation. However, they are highly susceptible
to corrosion, stiction, and microscopic bonding of the
contact electrode metal surfaces [5].
Integration of RFmicroswitches with IC has been
one of the important trends in the last decades [6–8].
This integration requires that the RFmicroswitch be
(a) very small size, (b) of low actuation voltage, and
(c) of low power consumption.
RF MEMS switches generate lower intermodula
tion (IM) as compared to their equivalents semicon
ductors [9]. In particular for ohmic switches, the gen
erated IM is signiﬁcantly low because of the very
small capacitance at the OFFstate and the linearity of
the contact at the ONstate [3, 10].
Static and dynamic pullin instabilities of MEMS
devices have been key issues in the literature. Sta
tic pullin, identiﬁed by Nathanson et al. [11], occurs
when the DC voltage exceeds a threshold value. Stud
ies on static pullin reveal that the maximum static sta
ble deﬂection varies from 33% to 41% of the original
electrode gap distance [12, 13].
The dynamic pullin phenomenon have been also of
major interest in the literature. Dynamic pullin takes
place when the system is excited using DC and/or AC
voltages. In fact, The transient behavior of MEMS de
vices is important for RF switch and for optical ap
plications [3]. Gupta et al. [14] and Krylov and Mai
mon [15] showed that pullin occurs at voltages below
the static pullin value due to transient effects for mi
crobeams actuated by a step voltage. Both studies in
dicate that the dynamic pullin voltage can be as low
as 91% of the static pullin voltage. In the presence
of squeezeﬁlm damping, the dynamic pullin voltage
is shown to approach the static pullin voltage [15].
A recent study by Krylov [16] shows that, using Lya
punov exponents, the systemmay become unstable be
fore reaching the static pullin voltage due to dynamic
effects when the system is excited using a DC volt
age. Under the same excitation Nielson and Barbas
tathis [17] concluded that dynamic pullin occurs at
half of the electrostatic gap and 92% of the static pull
in voltage.
Nayfeh and coworkers [18–20] generated frequency
and forceresponse curves for electrostatic microactu
ators whose main component is a clampedclamped
microbeam. They showed that dynamic pullin occurs
under voltages lower than the static pullin voltage, as
low as 25%, when the frequency of the AC compo
nent is in the neighborhood of a resonant frequency.
On the other hand, Najar et al. [21] and Lenci and
Rega [22] studied the basin of attraction of bounded
motions and showed that the erosion of the basin of
attraction is the principle reason for the occurrence
of dynamic pullin by homoclinic bifurcation. They
showed that smoothness of the boundary of the basin
of attraction of bounded motions can be lost and re
placed with fractal tongues as the excitation amplitude
is increased. Similar results were reported by Nayfeh
et al. [23] for a microcantilever with a rigid plate at
tached to its free end.
The decrease of actuation voltage of electrostatic
RFMEMS switches can be accomplished by (i) us
ing different materials and hinges to reduce the mi
crobeam rigidity, (ii) increasing the area of the elec
trostatic ﬁeld, and/or (iii) decreasing the gap. These
variations degrade the principal parameters of the RF
MEMS switches, such as isolation. AbbaspourSani
and Afrang [24] proposed to decrease the equivalent
rigidity of the microswitch by using a structure com
posed of two displaceable microplates This structure
preserves the microswitch parameters while increas
ing its lifetime. Similarly, Chaffey and Austin [25] de
creased the equivalent rigidity of the microsystem and
concluded that the use of two cantilever microbeams,
when compared to a single microbeam structure, re
duces signiﬁcantly the pullin voltage.
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch for RFapplications with low actuation voltage 721
The present paper examines the static and dynamic
behaviors of an electrostatically actuated ohmic con
tact RF microswitch. The proposed design consists of
a pair of cantilevered microbeams. At the free end
of each microbeam, a rigid microplate is clamped.
An electrostatic force is applied between the two mi
croplates (electrodes) causing the deﬂections of both
microplate–microbeam subsystems. These deﬂections
continue to grow up to a point where the electrosta
tic force exceeds the elastic force of the microbeams.
This leads to the collapse of the upper microplate onto
the lower one when the pullin voltage is reached. The
means by which this instability occurs and the selec
tion of the microsystem parameters that affect this in
stability are of paramount importance in the design
of MEMS electrostatic devices. In practice, pullin in
stability of microswitches is suitable for changing the
state of an electric circuit from open to close or vice
versa. In this study, we develop an accurate mathemat
ical model that accounts for signiﬁcant nonlinearities
of the microswitch. We ﬁrst investigate the static and
transient responses of the RF microswitch, and then
we study its open–closed cycle and compare it with
other designs. Here, stiction and Casimir forces will
be neglected due to the dominance of the electrosta
tic force. To gain more insight into its dynamical be
havior, we also simulate the frequency response of the
proposed RF microswitch. Finally, we investigate the
global stability of the microsystem by estimating the
size of the resulting basin of attraction of bounded mo
tions.
2 Problem formulation
We propose the design of RF microswitches with
ohmic contact, as shown in Fig. 1. The proposed de
sign consists of two cantilevered microbeams; each
one is attached to a rigid microplate (electrode) at its
free end, and clamped to the substrate at the other
end. The transmitted signal is applied to a transmis
sion line located between the two electrodes. On top of
this transmission line an insulator layer is deposited in
order to provide separation between the actuation and
the transmitted voltages. The thickness of the trans
mission line with its insulator layer is 0.8 µm. An elec
trical voltage, composed of DCand ACcomponents, is
applied between the two electrodes. Sufﬁciently large
voltages cause the pullin instability and, thus, the ON
Fig. 1 Ohmic contact RFmicroswitch
722 H. Samaali et al.
state of the microswitch, whereas zero or low voltages
release the microbeams to establish the OFF state. The
microbeams are modeled as Euler–Bernoulli beams of
density ρ, modulus of elasticity E, width
ˆ
b, thick
ness
ˆ
h, crosssection area A =
ˆ
b
ˆ
h, and second mo
ment of area I =
ˆ
b
ˆ
h
3
12
. The microplates are modeled
as rigid bodies of masses
ˆ
M
1
and
ˆ
M
2
and moments of
inertia
ˆ
J
1
=
1
3
ˆ
M
1
ˆ
L
2
C
and
ˆ
J
2
=
1
3
ˆ
M
2
ˆ
L
2
C
about the ˆ y
1

axis. Due to their small thicknesses, only the dominant
terms of the moments of inertia of the microplates are
considered in this study.
We derive the equations of motion using Hamil
ton’s principle, which states that
_
t
2
t
1
(δT −δV
D
−δV
E
) d
ˆ
t = 0. (1)
The total kinetic energy of the microswitch is given
by
T =
1
2
ρA
_
ˆ
L
1
0
_
˙
ˆ w
1
_
ˆ x
1
,
ˆ
t
__
2
d ˆ x
1
+
1
2
ρA
_
ˆ
L
2
0
_
˙
ˆ w
2
_
ˆ x
2
,
ˆ
t
__
2
d ˆ x
2
+
1
2
ˆ
M
1
_
˙
ˆ w
1
_
ˆ
L
1
,
ˆ
t
_
+
ˆ
L
c
˙
ˆ w
1
_
ˆ
L
1
,
ˆ
t
__
2
+
1
2
ˆ
M
2
_
˙
ˆ w
2
_
ˆ
L
2
,
ˆ
t
_
+
ˆ
L
c
˙
ˆ w
2
_
ˆ
L
2
,
ˆ
t
__
2
+
1
2
ˆ
J
1
_
˙
ˆ w
1
_
ˆ
L
1
,
ˆ
t
__
2
+
1
2
ˆ
J
2
_
˙
ˆ w
2
_
ˆ
L
2
,
ˆ
t
__
2
(2)
where ˆ w
1
( ˆ x
1
,
ˆ
t ) and ˆ w
2
( ˆ x
2
,
ˆ
t ) are, respectively, the de
ﬂections of microbeams 1 and 2 at time
ˆ
t about the ˆ z
1
and ˆ z
2
axes and at locations ˆ x
1
and ˆ x
2
, respectively.
The dot denotes the derivative with respect to time
ˆ
t
and the prime designates the derivatives with respect
to the spatial variables ˆ x
1
and ˆ x
2
for microbeams 1
and 2, respectively. The total elastic energy of the mi
crosystem is given by
V
D
=
1
2
EI
_
ˆ
L
1
0
_
ˆ w
1
_
ˆ x
1
,
ˆ
t
__
2
d ˆ x
1
+
1
2
EI
_
ˆ
L
2
0
_
ˆ w
2
_
ˆ x
2
,
ˆ
t
__
2
d ˆ x
2
. (3)
Finally, the potential energy due to the electrostatic
ﬁeld between the microplates is
V
E
= −
εb
p
2
(V
DC
+V
AC
)
2
×
_
2
ˆ
L
c
0
ds
ˆ
d
n
− ˆ w
1
(
ˆ
L
1
,
ˆ
t )s − ˆ w
2
(
ˆ
L
2
,
ˆ
t )(2
ˆ
L
c
−s)
=
−εb
p
(V
DC
+V
AC
)
2
2( ˆ w
2
(
ˆ
L
2
,
ˆ
t ) − ˆ w
1
(
ˆ
L
1
,
ˆ
t ))
×ln
_
ˆ
d
n
−2
ˆ
L
c
ˆ w
1
(
ˆ
L
1
,
ˆ
t )
ˆ
d
n
−2
ˆ
L
c
ˆ w
2
(
ˆ
L
2
,
ˆ
t )
_
(4)
where
ˆ
d
n
=
ˆ
d − ˆ w
1
(
ˆ
L
1
,
ˆ
t ) − ˆ w
2
(
ˆ
L
2
,
ˆ
t ), ε is the permit
tivity of air, V
DC
and V
AC
are, respectively, the DC and
AC voltage differences between the microplates and s
is the local coordinate attached to the microplate in the
ˆ x directions.
Substituting (2)–(4) into (1), incorporating viscous
damping, and using the following nondimensional
variables:
w
1
=
ˆ w
1
ˆ
d
, w
2
=
ˆ w
2
ˆ
d
, x
1
=
ˆ x
1
ˆ
L
1
,
x
2
=
ˆ x
2
ˆ
L
2
, t =
ˆ
t
ˆ
T
,
ˆ
T =
_
ρA
ˆ
L
4
1
EI
,
α =
ˆ
L
2
ˆ
L
1
we obtain the nondimensional equations of motion
w
iv
1
(x
1
, t ) +c
1
˙ w
1
(x
1
, t ) + ¨ w
1
(x
1
, t ) = 0, (5)
w
iv
2
(x
2
, t ) +c
2
˙ w
2
(x
2
, t ) +α
4
¨ w
2
(x
2
, t ) = 0 (6)
where c
1
= ˆ c
1
ˆ
L
4
1
EI
ˆ
T
and c
2
= ˆ c
2
α
4
ˆ
L
4
1
EI
ˆ
T
are the nondimen
sional damping coefﬁcients of the microbeams. Now,
the prime and dot denote the derivatives with respect
to x and t , respectively.
Equations (5) and (6) are subject to the following
nondimensional boundary conditions:
w
1
(0, t ) = 0, (7)
w
1
(0, t ) = 0, (8)
w
2
(0, t ) = 0, (9)
w
2
(0, t ) = 0, (10)
w
1
(1, t ) =M
1
_
¨ w
1
(1, t ) +L
c1
¨ w
1
(1, t )
_
−α
2
Q
w
,
(11)
w
2
(1, t ) =α
4
M
2
_
¨ w
2
(1, t ) +L
c2
¨ w
2
(1, t )
_
−α
22
Q
w
,
(12)
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch for RFapplications with low actuation voltage 723
w
1
(1, t ) = −M
1
L
c1
_
¨ w
1
(1, t ) +
4
3
L
c1
¨ w
1
(1, t )
_
−α
1
Q
w
1
, (13)
w
2
(1, t ) = −α
4
M
2
L
c2
_
¨ w
2
(1, t ) +
4
3
L
c2
¨ w
2
(1, t )
_
−α
12
Q
w
2
, (14)
where
Q
w
=
(V
DC
+V
AC
)
2
(d
n
−2L
c1
w
1
(1, t ))(d
n
−2L
c2
w
2
(1, t ))
Q
w
1
=
(V
DC
+V
AC
)
2
(
w
2
(1,t )
α
−w
1
(1, t ))
2
×
_
−ln
_
d
n
−2L
c1
w
1
(1, t )
d
n
−2L
c2
w
2
(1, t )
_
+
2L
c1
(
w
2
(1,t )
α
−w
1
(1, t ))
d
n
−2L
c1
w
1
(1, t )
_
,
Q
w
2
=
(V
DC
+V
AC
)
2
(
w
2
(1,t )
α
−w
1
(1, t ))
2
,
×
_
ln
_
d
n
−2L
c1
w
1
(1, t )
d
n
−2L
c2
w
2
(1, t )
_
−
2L
c1
(
w
2
(1,t )
α
−w
1
(1, t ))
d
n
−2L
c2
w
2
(1, t )
_
,
d
n
= 1 −w
1
(1, t ) −w
2
(1, t ), L
c1
=
ˆ
L
c
ˆ
L
1
,
L
c2
=
ˆ
L
c
ˆ
L
2
, α
1
=
ε
ˆ
b
p
ˆ
L
4
1
2EI
ˆ
d
3
, α
12
=α
1
α
4
,
M
1
=
2
ˆ
b
p
ˆ
L
c
ˆ
b
ˆ
L
1
, M
2
=
2
ˆ
b
p
ˆ
L
c
ˆ
b
ˆ
L
2
,
α
2
=
ε
ˆ
b
p
ˆ
L
c
ˆ
L
3
1
EI
ˆ
d
3
, α
22
=α
2
α
3
.
3 Static analysis
The static problem can be formulated by setting the
time derivatives and the AC forcing terms in (5)–(14)
equal to zero. The solutions of the static equations are
given by
w
s1
=Ax
3
1
+Bx
2
1
+Cx
1
+D, (15)
w
s2
=Gx
3
2
+Fx
2
2
+Ex
2
+H (16)
where w
s1
(x
1
) and w
s2
(x
2
) are the static deﬂections
for microbeams 1 and 2, respectively.
Using boundary conditions (7)–(10) yields C =
D = E = H = 0. Use of the remaining boundary
conditions leads to the following nonlinear algebraic
equations:
6A= −α
2
(V
DC
)
2
_
1
D
n
−2L
c1
D
1
__
1
D
n
−2L
c2
D
2
_
,
(17)
6G= −α
22
(V
DC
)
2
_
1
D
n
−2L
c1
D
1
__
1
D
n
−2L
c2
D
2
_
,
(18)
6A+2B =
α
1
(V
DC
)
2
(
D
2
α
−D
1
)
2
_
ln
_
D
n
−2L
c1
D
1
D
n
−2L
c2
D
2
_
−
2L
c1
(
D
2
α
−D
1
)
D
n
−2L
c1
D
1
_
, (19)
6G+2F =
α
12
(V
DC
)
2
(
D
2
α
−D
1
)
2
_
−ln
_
D
n
−2L
c1
D
1
D
n
−2L
c2
D
2
_
+
2L
c1
(
D
2
α
−D
1
)
D
n
−2L
c2
D
2
_
, (20)
where D
n
= 1 −A−B −G−F, D
1
= 3A+2B and
D
2
= 3G+2F.
The microbeammicroplate subsystems deﬂect un
der an applied electric ﬁeld. We examine these de
ﬂections by developing closedform solutions for the
static deﬂections, in (15) and (16), whose coefﬁcients
are determined using the Newton–Raphson method
in Mathematica from (17)–(20). The geometric and
physical parameters of the microswitch are given in
Table 1. Figure 2 shows variation of the static de
ﬂections of microbeams 1 and 2 at x
1
= x
2
= 1 with
the applied DC voltage. For a given DC voltage each
microbeam has two equilibrium solutions; one is sta
Table 1 Geometric and physical parameters of the microswitch
ˆ
L
1
ˆ
L
2
ˆ
b
ˆ
h
ˆ
d
250 µm 250 µm 5 µm 1.5 µm 4 µm
ˆ
L
c
ˆ
b
p
ρ E ε
25 µm 20 µm 2300 kg/m
3
160 GPa 8.851 ×10
−12
F/m
724 H. Samaali et al.
ble (lower branch) and the other is unstable (upper
branch). As the voltage is increased, these solutions
meet at the pullin point which is characterized by a
voltage V
DC
= V
p
= 5.89 V and maximum deﬂection
equal to 0.1536. Since the microbeam microplate sub
systems are alike, the deﬂections w
s1
(x
1
) and w
s2
(x
2
)
are identical. We also simulate, in Fig. 2, the static re
sponse of the system using the commercial software
ANSYS and show very good agreement between both
solutions. The pullin voltage obtained by ANSYS is
5.9 V at a maximum deﬂection equal to 0.144. We
show in Fig. 3 the deﬂected conﬁgurations of the mi
Fig. 2 Microbeam’s deﬂection under an applied DC Voltage
crobeams using ANSYS for V
DC
= 5.5 V, the simula
tion validate the rigid plate assumption adopted in our
model even for a relatively high DC voltage.
Figure 4 shows the inﬂuence of the length of the
second microbeam
ˆ
L
2
on the pullin voltage V
p
. If
α = 0, which corresponds to
ˆ
L
2
= 0 while the lower
microplate remains under the upper one, the system
becomes a conventional microswitch with a single
cantilevered microbeam. This corresponds to the mi
croswitch studied by Nayfeh et al. [23] with the pullin
voltage V
p
= 8.3 V, which is in agreement with Fig. 4
for α = 0. As shown in Fig. 4, the pullin voltage V
p
is
reduced as α increases, and attains its lowest value at
α = 1, which is adopted for the rest of the simulations.
4 Natural frequencies and mode shapes
The deﬂections of the microbeams, subjected to an
electrostatic force, can be decomposed into the sum
of static components due to the DC voltage and dy
namic components due to the AC voltage, denoted by
u
1
(x
1
, t ) and u
2
(x
2
, t ); that is,
w
1
(x
1
, t ) =w
s1
(x
1
) +u
1
(x
1
, t ), (21)
w
2
(x
2
, t ) =w
s2
(x
2
) +u
2
(x
2
, t ). (22)
Expanding the nonlinear electrostatic force terms us
ing Taylor series about u
i
= 0 (i = 1, 2) yields the
problem describing the dynamics of the system about
its static equilibrium. We drop the nonlinear forcing
Fig. 3 Static solution using
Ansys for V
DC
= 5.5 V
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch for RFapplications with low actuation voltage 725
Fig. 4 Pullin voltage variation with α
and damping terms in (5)–(14), use (21)–(22), and let
u
i
(x
i
, t ) = φ
i
(x
i
)e
jωt
(i = 1, 2), where φ
i
(x
i
) is the
mode shape and ω is the associated nondimensional
natural frequency. The linear eigenvalue problem is
given by
φ
iv
1
(x
1
) −ω
2
φ
1
(x
1
) = 0, (23)
φ
iv
2
(x
2
) −ω
2
φ
2
(x
2
) = 0 (24)
and the boundary conditions
φ
1
(0) = 0, (25)
φ
2
(0) = 0, (26)
φ
1
(0) = 0, (27)
φ
2
(0) = 0, (28)
φ
1
(1) =M
1
L
c1
ω
2
φ
1
(1) +
4
3
M
1
L
2
c1
ω
2
φ
1
(1)
−α
1
V
2
DC
_
γ
1
φ
1
(1) +γ
1
φ
1
(1) +γ
2
φ
2
(1)
+γ
2
φ
2
(1)
_
, (29)
φ
2
(1) =α
4
M
2
L
c2
ω
2
φ
2
(1) +
4
3
α
4
M
2
L
2
c2
ω
2
φ
2
(1)
−α
12
V
2
DC
_
ψ
1
φ
1
(1) +ψ
1
φ
1
(1) +ψ
2
φ
2
(1)
+ψ
2
φ
2
(1)
_
, (30)
φ
1
(1) = −M
1
ω
2
φ
1
(1) −M
1
L
c1
ω
2
φ
1
(1)
−α
2
V
2
DC
_
χ
1
φ
1
(1) +χ
1
φ
1
(1) +χ
1
φ
2
(1)
+χ
2
φ
2
(1)
_
, (31)
φ
2
(1) = −α
4
M
2
ω
2
φ
2
(1) −α
4
M
2
L
c2
ω
2
φ
2
(1)
−α
22
V
2
DC
_
χ
1
φ
1
(1) +χ
1
φ
1
(1) +χ
1
φ
2
(1)
+χ
2
φ
2
(1)
_
, (32)
where
γ
1
=
1
θ
1
_
−
1
θ
1
τ
2
+
1
θ
1
τ
1
+
2L
c1
τ
2
1
_
,
γ
1
=
1
θ
1
_
−
2ln(
τ
1
τ
2
)
θ
2
1
+
4L
c1
θ
1
τ
1
+
4L
2
c1
τ
2
1
_
, γ
2
=γ
1
,
γ
2
=
1
θ
1
_
2ln(
τ
1
τ
2
)
αθ
2
1
−
2L
c1
αθ
1
τ
1
−
2L
c2
θ
1
τ
2
_
,
ψ
1
=
1
θ
1
_
1
θ
1
τ
2
−
1
θ
1
τ
1
−
2L
c1
τ
2
2
_
,
ψ
1
=
1
θ
1
_
2ln(
τ
1
τ
2
)
θ
2
1
−
2L
c1
θ
1
τ
2
−
2L
c1
θ
1
τ
1
_
, ψ
2
=ψ
1
,
ψ
2
=
1
θ
1
_
−2ln(
τ
1
τ
2
)
αθ
2
1
+
2L
c1
αθ
1
τ
2
+
2L
c2
θ
1
τ
2
−
4L
c1
L
c2
τ
2
2
_
,
χ
1
=
_
1
τ
2
1
τ
2
+
1
τ
1
τ
2
2
_
, χ
1
=
2L
c1
τ
2
1
τ
2
,
χ
2
=
2L
c2
τ
2
2
τ
1
, θ
1
=
w
s2
(1)
α
−w
s1
(1),
τ
1
= 1 −2L
c1
w
s1
(1) −w
s1
(1) −w
s2
(1),
τ
2
= 1 −2L
c2
w
s2
(1) −w
s1
(1) −w
s2
(1).
The general solutions of the eigenvalue problem
can be expressed by
φ
1
(x
1
) = λ
1
cos(βx
1
) +λ
2
sin(βx
1
)
−λ
1
cosh(βx
1
) −λ
2
sinh(βx
1
), (33)
φ
2
(x
2
) = μ
1
cos(βx
2
) +μ
2
sin(βx
2
)
−μ
1
cosh(βx
2
) −μ
2
sinh(βx
2
), (34)
where β =
√
ω and the boundary conditions (25)–
(28) are taken into account. The rest of the coefﬁ
cients are determined by solving the system of non
linear algebraic equations that result from substitution
of (33)–(34) into the boundary conditions (29)–(32).
A Newton–Raphson technique is used in Mathemat
ica to calculate three of these coefﬁcients in terms of
the fourth coefﬁcient, and thus to determine the ﬁrst
few natural frequencies and mode shapes. In Fig. 5,
we show the ﬁrst four mode shapes and corresponding
natural frequencies for V
DC
= 3 V. The mode shapes
show the in phase and out of phase motion of the two
microbeams for each natural frequency of the system.
726 H. Samaali et al.
Fig. 5 First four mode
shapes and corresponding
natural frequencies for
V
DC
= 3 V
Figure 6 shows variation of the ﬁrst natural fre
quency ω
1
with the applied DC voltage. We observe
a signiﬁcant drop in ω
1
as the DC voltage approaches
the static pullin voltage. In Table 2, we show the ef
fect of varying the DC voltage on the ﬁrst ten natural
frequencies. In this case, the frequencies ω
2
to ω
10
are
relatively insensitive to the DC voltage.
5 Reducedorder dynamic model
A reducedorder model (ROM) is derived to simulate
the dynamic response of the microsystem. This ROM
is obtained by applying the Galerkin method by using
the ﬁrst two global mode shapes associated with the
ﬁrst two natural frequencies. In addition, we let α = 1,
L
c1
= L
c2
= L
c
,
ˆ
L
1
=
ˆ
L
2
=
ˆ
L and M
1
= M
2
= M.
The Lagrangian is used here to derive the discretized
equations of motion in nondimensional form; that is,
=
_
1
0
˙ w
2
1
(x
1
, t ) dx
1
+
_
1
0
˙ w
2
2
(x
2
, t ) dx
2
−
_
1
0
_
w
1
(x
1
, t )
_
2
dx
1
−
_
1
0
_
w
2
(x
2
, t )
_
2
dx
2
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch for RFapplications with low actuation voltage 727
Table 2 Variation of the
ﬁrst ten natural frequencies
with V
DC
V
DC
(V) 0 2 3 4 5.89
ω
1
1.51787 1.49077 1.45075 1.37900 0.46613
ω
2
1.51787 1.51807 1.51830 1.51869 1.52198
ω
3
13.18123 13.1814 13.1784 13.1795 13.1739
ω
4
13.18123 13.2266 13.1817 13.1822 13.1864
ω
5
39.53288 39.5330 39.5311 39.5314 39.5281
ω
6
39.53288 39.5629 39.5330 39.5333 39.5350
ω
7
80.56617 80.5642 80.5653 80.5647 80.5651
ω
8
80.56617 80.584 80.5677 80.5684 80.5694
ω
9
139.011 138.938 138.947 138.988 138.945
ω
10
139.011 139.069 139.031 139.037 139.07
Fig. 6 Variation of the ﬁrst natural frequency ω
1
with V
DC
+
R(V
DC
+V
AC
)
2
(w
2
(1, t ) −w
1
(1, t ))
ln
_
d
n
−2L
c
w
1
(1, t )
d
n
−2L
c
w
2
(1, t )
_
+M
_
˙ w
2
(1, t ) +L
c
˙ w
2
(1, t )
_
2
+
ML
2
c
3
_
˙ w
1
(1, t )
_
2
+
ML
2
c
3
_
˙ w
2
(1, t )
_
2
+M
_
˙ w
1
(1, t ) +L
c
˙ w
1
(1, t )
_
2
(35)
where R =
ε
ˆ
b
p
ˆ
L
4
EI
ˆ
d
3
.
Next, we approximate the microsystem deﬂections
by
w
i
(x
i
, t ) ≈w
si
(x
i
) +
2
j=1
q
i
(t )φ
ij
(x
i
) i = 1, 2
where the φ
ij
(x
i
) are the mode shapes and the q
i
(t )
are the associated modal amplitudes. Substituting
the above approximation into (35), using the Euler–
Lagrange equation and adding viscous modal damping
terms, we obtain the following reducedorder model
described by two second order ODEs in time and rep
resented in matrix form as:
[M][
¨
Q] + [C][
˙
Q] + [K
L
][Q]
+
R(V
DC
+V
AC
sinΩt )
2
B
F
[K
N
][Q]
+ [F
1
] +
R(V
DC
+V
AC
sinΩt )
2
A
F
[F
2
] = [0] (36)
where
[M] =
_
m
11
m
12
m
12
m
22
_
, [C] =
_
c
1
0
0 c
1
_
,
[K
L
] =
_
k
11
k
12
k
12
k
22
_
, [K
N
] =
_
0 K
12
−K
12
0
_
,
[F
1
] =
_
f
11
f
12
_
,
f
11
=
_
1
0
w
s1
(x
1
)φ
11
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
w
s2
(x
2
)φ
21
(x
2
) dx
2
,
f
12
=
_
1
0
w
s1
(x
1
)φ
12
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
w
s2
(x
2
)φ
22
(x
2
) dx
2
,
[F
2
] =
_
f
21
f
22
_
=
_
φ
21
(1) −φ
11
(1)
φ
22
(1) −φ
12
(1)
_
,
728 H. Samaali et al.
[Q] =
_
q
1
(t )
q
2
(t )
_
and
m
11
=
_
1
0
φ
2
11
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
φ
2
21
(x
2
) dx
2
+M
_
φ
2
11
(1) +φ
2
21
(1)
+2L
c
_
φ
11
(1)φ
11
(1) +φ
21
(1)φ
21
(1)
_
+
4
3
L
2
c
_
φ
11
2
(1) +φ
21
2
(1)
_
_
,
m
12
=
_
1
0
φ
11
(x
1
)φ
12
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
φ
21
(x
2
)φ
22
(x
2
) dx
2
+M
_
φ
11
(1)φ
12
(1) +φ
21
(1)φ
22
(1)
+L
c
_
φ
12
(1)φ
11
(1) +φ
11
(1)φ
12
(1)
+φ
22
(1)φ
21
(1) +φ
21
(1)φ
22
(1)
_
+
4
3
L
2
c
_
φ
11
(1)φ
12
(1) +φ
21
(1)φ
22
(1)
_
_
,
m
22
=
_
1
0
φ
2
12
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
φ
2
22
(x
2
) dx
2
+M
_
φ
2
12
(1) +φ
2
22
(1)
+2L
c
_
φ
12
(1)φ
12
(1) +φ
22
(1)φ
22
(1)
_
+
4
3
L
2
c
_
φ
12
2
(1) +φ
22
2
(1)
_
_
,
k
11
=
_
1
0
φ
2
11
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
φ
21
2
(x
2
) dx
2
,
k
12
=
_
1
0
φ
11
(x
1
)φ
12
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
φ
21
(x
2
)φ
22
(x
2
) dx
2
,
k
22
=
_
1
0
φ
2
12
(x
1
) dx
1
+
_
1
0
φ
2
22
(x
2
) dx
2
,
K
12
=L
c
_
φ
22
(1)φ
11
(1) −φ
11
(1)φ
12
(1)
−φ
21
(1)φ
12
(1) +φ
12
(1)
_
φ
11
(1) −φ
21
(1)
_
−φ
22
(1)φ
21
(1) +φ
11
(1)φ
22
(1)
+φ
21
(1)φ
22
(1)
+2L
c
_
φ
11
(1)φ
22
(1) −φ
12
(1)φ
21
(1)
__
,
A
F
=
2(w
s1
(1) −w
s2
(1) +
2
j=1
q
j
(t )(φ
1j
(1) −φ
2j
(1)))
2
Ln[
−τ
1
+
2
j=1
q
j
(t )(φ
1j
(1)+φ
2j
(1)+2L
c
φ
1j
(1))
−τ
2
+
2
j=1
q
j
(t )(φ
1j
(1)+φ
2j
(1)+2L
c
φ
2j
(1))
]
,
B
F
=
_
−τ
1
+
2
j=1
q
j
(t )
_
φ
1j
(1) +φ
2j
(1)
+2L
c
φ
1j
(1)
_
__
−τ
2
+
2
j=1
q
j
(t )
_
φ
1j
(1)
+φ
2j
(1) +2L
c
φ
2j
(1)
_
__
w
s1
(1) −w
s2
(1)
+
2
j=1
q
j
(t )
_
φ
1j
(1) −φ
2j
(1)
_
_
.
6 Static and dynamic responses
6.1 Static response
We calculate the static response of the microsystem by
solving (15)–(20) with different applied DC voltages.
If the microswitch is at its ON state, the DC voltage
must be lowered to recover its OFF state. The voltage,
at which the microswitch electrodes loose contact, is
known as the pullout voltage. We estimate the pull
out voltage by conducting a transient analysis. We as
sume that the ON state (both electrodes are in contact)
is the initial state of the transient response. The elec
trodes are in contact, with the transmission line and the
insulator layer, when the microbeam deﬂections attain
0.4, where a distance of 0.2 is kept as a separation gap.
Thus, the pullout voltage can be estimated by solving
the dynamic equations (36) by means of longtime in
tegration using the Runge–Kutta technique in Mathe
matica.
A comparison of the pullin and pullout voltages
associated with the proposed model and that of Nayfeh
et al. [23] (α = 0) is shown in Fig. 7. We remark that
the computed pullin voltages associated with the sin
gle beam (Nayfeh’s model) and the proposed double
beam microstructure are 8.297 V and 5.89 V, respec
tively. Consequently, a 30% reduction of the actuation
voltage is obtained.
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch for RFapplications with low actuation voltage 729
Fig. 7 The responses of the single microbeam (gray curve) and
double microbeam (black curve) designs subjected to a DC volt
age
6.2 Dynamic response
We use the Finite Difference Method (FDM) [15] to
examine the limit cycles of the microsystem model by
two modes subject to DC and AC voltages. The AC
excitation is harmonic with period T = 2π/Ω, where
Ω is the forcing frequency. We discretize the orbit
into m + 1 points and enforce the periodicity condi
tion q
i0
= q
i
(t
0
) = q
i
(t
m
) = q
im
. This condition im
plies that the ﬁrst and last points of the orbit (point 0
and m) are identical. At each of these points, we have
_
˙ q
ip
=q
v
ip
,
˙ q
v
ip
=f (q
ip
, q
v
ip
, V
DC
, V
AC
(t
p
))
(37)
where p = 1, 2, . . . , m, i = 1, 2, t
p
= pt , t =
T
m
,
q
ip
=q
i
(t
p
), and q
v
ip
=q
v
i
(t
p
) = ˙ q
i
(t
p
). The state func
tion f is given by
f
_
q
ip
, q
v
ip
, V
DC
, V
AC
(t
p
)
_
= −[M]
−1
_
[C]
_
q
v
1p
q
v
2p
_
+R
_
V
DC
+V
AC
sin(2πt
p
)
_
2
×
_
[K
N
]
B
F
_
q
1p
q
2p
_
+
[F
2
]
A
F
_
+ [K
L
]
_
q
1p
q
2p
_
+ [F
1
]
_
.
The FDM can now be applied to system (37) to
yield a set of nonlinear algebraic equations. In this
case, a twostep explicit centraldifference scheme is
Table 3 Loading cases
Study cases V
DC
ω
1
ω
2
V
AC
Q
Case 1 3 V 1.450 1.518 1 V 100
Case 2 3 V 1.450 1.518 0.05 V 100
used to approximate the time derivatives. Therefore,
for an m+1 FDM discretized orbit, the microstructure
dynamics can be approximated by a set of 4m non
linear algebraic equations in 4m unknown displace
ments and velocities. These equations can be solved
for the unknowns using the Newton–Raphson method.
The stability of the orbits can then be analyzed by
means of longtime integration (LTI). Next, we exam
ine the frequencyresponse curves of the microbeam
microplate system, whose parameters are given in Ta
ble 1 and simulate its time response subject to two
different loading cases described in Table 3. We sim
ulate the frequency response of the ﬁrst microbeam
tip w
max
=w
1
(1, t ) in the neighborhood of the nondi
mensional fundamental frequency ω
1
while ﬁxing the
number of FDM time steps per period to m= 100. For
simpliﬁcation we use the same modal damping coef
ﬁcient for both mode shapes by deﬁning c = ω
1
/Q,
where Q is the quality factor. This assumption is ver
iﬁed by the fact that the two ﬁrst natural frequencies
are very close to each others.
In Fig. 8, we use the loading case 1 to validate the
convergence of the proposed two modes approxima
tion by plotting the frequencyresponse curve using
two, three and four mode shapes in the approxima
tion of the beam’s deﬂections. Figures 9 and 10 display
the frequencyresponse curves of the system subject to
loading Cases 1 and 2, respectively. For loading Case 1
(Fig. 9), we ﬁnd two resonance regions associated with
the ﬁrst symmetric mode and the ﬁrst antisymmetric
mode. The symmetric and antisymmetric modes corre
spond to the inphase and outofphase motions of the
microbeams, respectively. For loading Case 2, the res
onance corresponding to the antisymmetric mode al
most disappears because the AC voltage being applied
is small. In both ﬁgures, the solid and dashed curves
denote stable and unstable limit cycles, respectively,
and the gray dashed line represents the limit of stabil
ity given by the unstable equilibrium solution. Further
details on the stability of these branches can be found
in [18] and [20].
We also investigate the forceresponse curve from
which the minimum applied AC voltage is assigned to
730 H. Samaali et al.
Fig. 8 Convergence of the proposed solution using a two modes
approximation
Fig. 9 Frequency response curve for loading case 1
Fig. 10 Frequency response curve for loading case 2
the proposed microswitch design. The use of a combi
nation of DC and AC voltages can lead to the phenom
Fig. 11 Force responsecurve of the microswitch for Ω = 1
Fig. 12 Force response curve of the microswitch for Ω = 1.38
enon of dynamic pullin [18, 20], which corresponds
to setting up the microswitch to its ON state. Fig
ures 11 and 12 show the forceresponse curves for dif
ferent values of the ACvoltage V
AC
by solving (37) for
Ω = 1 and Ω = 1.38. The resulting bifurcation curves
showthat the minimumACvoltage to be applied to the
microplates for dynamic pullin is, respectively, 2.9
and 1.013 V for Ω = 1 and Ω = 1.38. We conclude
that dynamic pullin is better obtained for excitation
frequencies close to the fundamental frequency.
7 Switching time estimation using static
and dynamic pullin
In the proposed design, as the electrostatically actu
ated microbeams deﬂect, each microplate travels only
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch for RFapplications with low actuation voltage 731
Fig. 13 Inﬂuence of DC voltage on the switching time for sim
ple and double cantilever beam designs
50% of the gap distance to reach the ON state. We
expect that in the proposed design the switching time
is shorter when compared to the single beam design.
To conﬁrm this, we solve the dynamic equations (36)
and estimate the transient time needed for the mi
crobeams to travel from the equilibrium position to
the ON state under an applied DC or a DC–AC volt
ages. The switching time is an important parameter
in RFMEMS since it represents the main limitation
for reaching high frequencies [26]. In this section, we
examine the effect of reducing the switching time by
increasing the applied voltage and its corresponding
power requirement for a given design using ﬁrst DC
voltage only and second using a combination of DC
and AC voltages.
7.1 Switching time using DC voltage: static pullin
Here, we use the pullin voltages calculated in Sect. 6.1
to measure the switching time for simple and double
cantilever beam designs.
Figure 13 shows the inﬂuence of DC voltage on the
switching time for both single and double cantilever
beam designs. It is clear that, when using the DC volt
age alone to actuate the microswitch, the double beam
design offers a signiﬁcant improvement of the switch
ing time, especially when high actuation frequencies
are required. In Fig. 14, we simulate the corresponding
requirements on power characterizing the electrostatic
energy of the system given by (4). We note that the
double cantilever beam design requires a very low ac
tuation power when compared to the single cantilever
beam design. The difference can reach one order of
magnitude.
Fig. 14 Inﬂuence of DC voltage on the power consumptions
for simple and double cantilever beam designs
7.2 Switching time using DC and AC voltages:
dynamic pullin
When we use a combination of DC and AC voltages
to actuate the microswitch from the OFF state to the
ON state, a voltage lower than the DC voltage can be
applied to force the collapse of the microplates. This
phenomenon is known as dynamic pullin. This latter
is a homoclinic bifurcation that occurs as the AC volt
age is increased [21] when stable and unstable mani
folds of the saddle approach each other, touch and then
intersect transversely inﬁnitely many times as a result
of a homoclinic entanglement [27].
Figure 15 displays the inﬂuence of the AC voltage
on the switching time associated with the simple and
doublebeam microswitch designs with different actu
ation frequencies for V
DC
= 3 V and Q = 100. We
vary the AC voltage amplitude and calculate the cor
responding switching time. Figure 15 depicts that the
switching time is low at frequencies in the neighbor
hood of the ﬁrst natural frequency for both designs.
In order to reduce the electrostatic voltage, we select
actuation frequencies that belong to the pullin band,
within which no stable solutions exist (see Fig. 9), or
we apply an AC voltage higher than the smallest volt
age corresponding to a stable solution in the corre
sponding forceresponse curve. We conclude that dy
namic pullin is not an appropriate alternative to DC
voltage actuation since it results in large switching
times for both simple and double beam designs. How
ever, compared to the simple beam design the pro
posed design considerably reduces the actuation AC
voltage by 33% to 50%.
In Fig. 16, we simulate the electrostatic power asso
ciated with Fig. 15 for different excitation frequencies.
732 H. Samaali et al.
Fig. 15 Inﬂuence of AC voltage on the switching time for sim
ple and double cantilever beam designs at different actuation
frequencies
For both designs, we show that actuation frequencies
closer to the ﬁrst natural frequency lower the electro
static power. The double beam design depicts one or
der of magnitude reduction in the electrostatic power.
However, the resulting electrostatic power using dy
namic pullin is larger as compared the case of static
pullin for the same switching time. This conﬁrms the
results obtained in Fig. 15.
In case of initial conditions corresponding to an
equilibrium position, the dynamic pullin actuation for
a double beam design yields lower switching time and
electrostatic power. In the next section, we investigate
the inﬂuence of other initial conditions on the global
stability of the microsystem and the corresponding
switching time for the unstable case.
8 Stability of the microswitch under small and
large perturbations
To study the global stability of the limitcycle solu
tions obtained by solving system (37) for a single
mode, we investigate the motion of the microswitch
for a set of initial conditions in the proximity of either
the stable or unstable ﬁxed points. In the beginning,
we study the behavior of the system for the undamped
and unforced case by examining the separatrices asso
ciated with the microswitch dynamics. Then we incor
porate damping and forcing and examine their inﬂu
ence on the region of stable motion in the phase space.
Fig. 16 Inﬂuence of AC voltage on the power consumptions for
simple and double cantilever beam designs at different actuation
frequencies
Fig. 17 Separatrix for V
DC
= 3 V
8.1 Unforced and undamped case
In the absence of damping and forcing, we investigate
the region in the phase space that leads to bounded mo
tion. In Fig. 17, we show the separatrix for V
DC
= 3 V
by integrating system (36) in forward and backward
time using LTI, for the undamped and unforced case
(c = 0 and V
AC
= 0), starting from the unstable static
solutions corresponding to displacements w
s1
(1) and
w
s2
(1). The dashed curves represent the separatrices
corresponding to both microbeams. These separatri
ces are perfectly symmetric about half distance of the
electrostatic gap
ˆ
d.
8.2 Forced and damped case
The integration of ACforcing and damping in study
ing the microsystem global stability requires a differ
A double microbeam MEMS ohmic switch for RFapplications with low actuation voltage 733
Fig. 18 Basin of attraction of safe motion V
DC
= 3 V, Ω = 1.38
and V
AC
= 0.05 V
ent approach. In fact, we use LTI to determine the sta
bility of the system by assuming a set of initial con
ditions belonging to the phase space of the system. To
determine these initial conditions, associated with the
ﬁrst microbeam, we divide the phase plane using a grid
composed of 500 ×500 lines. The grid points are cho
sen as initial conditions to solve system (36).
In Figs. 18 and 19, we show the basin of attraction
of bounded solutions of the microswitch for Ω = 1.38
and V
AC
= 0.05 V (Fig. 18) and V
AC
= 0.9 V (Fig. 19)
using a onemode approximation. The use of only sin
gle mode for approximating the dynamic solution is
related to the reduction of the computational time and
justiﬁed by the choice of the excitation frequencies,
which are far from the second resonance frequency of
the microsystem. In both ﬁgures, the red regions cor
respond to initial conditions that lead to bounded mo
tions. These regions correspond to the case in which
the pullin dynamics fails to set the microswitch to
its ON state. Outside the basin of attraction, where
dynamic pullin occurs, the color levels indicate the
magnitude of the switching time. More contrasted col
ors correspond to smaller switching times. In case
V
AC
= 0.9 V, we note that the choice of the initial con
ditions is crucial for determining the switching time.
This may be considered as a drawback of the proposed
design because its performance depends on both mi
crobeams being able to recover their initial stable po
sitions in order to initiate the next switching cycle.
9 Conclusions
We proposed the design of a RF microswitch with low
voltage actuation. The microsystem is composed of
two displaceable microcantilever electrodes at which
Fig. 19 Basin of attraction of safe motion V
DC
= 3 V, Ω = 1.38
and V
AC
= 0.9 V
two rigid microplates generate the nonlinear electro
static force to actuate the microswitch. A mathemati
cal model was developed to analyze the static, eigen
value, and dynamic problems where the limitcycle
solutions of the system are calculated under DC and
harmonic AC voltages. Using a static and transient
analysis, we demonstrated that the resulting static pull
in voltage and switching time are reduced by 30 and
45%, respectively, as compared to the design made
of a single microbeammicroplate system. We also
showed that microswitches can pullin at voltages be
low the static pullin voltage due to the transient ef
fects when the system is excited using a combination
of AC and DC voltages. The frequency and force
response curves indicate the use of a set of AC voltage
frequency at which no stable positions exists.
This fact is suitable for switching applications.
Then we studied and compared the switching times for
DC and AC actuation. We showed that using a combi
nation of DC and AC voltages minimize the switching
electrical power, however, in that case the switching
time is much higher than a standard DC forcing case.
This fact allows an optimization of the choice of the
actuation voltage with respect to the required switch
ing performance. Finally, the global stability of the mi
crosystem was studied in order to examine the varia
tion of the switching time as the initial conditions are
varied. For small actuation voltages, we found a large
sensitivity to initial conditions. This fact inﬂuences the
performance of the switching time.
Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank the re
search team of Dr. Mohammad Younis of Binghamton Univer
sity for their assistance in the ANSYS simulations.
734 H. Samaali et al.
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