AN INTEGRATED ELECTROMAGNETIC MICRO-TURBO-GENERATOR SUPPORTED ON ENCAPSULATED MICROBALL BEARINGS
Beyaz, Mustafa Ilker
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This dissertation presents the development of an integrated electromagnetic micro-turbo-generator supported on encapsulated microball bearings for electromechanical power conversion in MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) scale. The device is composed of a silicon turbine rotor with magnetic materials that is supported by microballs over a stator with planar, multi-turn, three-phase copper coils. The micro-turbo-generator design exhibits a novel integration of three key technologies and components, namely encapsulated microball bearings, incorporated thick magnetic materials, and wafer-thick stator coils. Encapsulated microball bearings provide a robust supporting mechanism that enables a simple operation and actuation scheme with high mechanical stability. The integration of thick magnetic materials allows for a high magnetic flux density within the stator. The wafer-thick coil design optimizes the flux linkage and decreases the internal impedance of the stator for a higher output power. Geometrical design and device parameters are optimized based on theoretical analysis and finite element simulations. A microfabrication process flow was designed using 15 optical masks and 110 process steps to fabricate the micro-turbo-generators, which demonstrates the complexity in device manufacturing. Two 10 pole devices with 2 and 3 turns per pole were fabricated. Single phase resistances of 46Ω and 220Ω were measured for the two stators, respectively. The device was actuated using pressurized nitrogen flowing through a silicon plumbing layer. A test setup was built to simultaneously measure the gas flow rate, pressure, rotor speed, and output voltage and power. Friction torques in the range of 5.5-33µNm were measured over a speed range of 0-16krpm (kilo rotations per minute) within the microball bearings using spin-down testing methodology. A maximum per-phase sinusoidal open circuit voltage of 0.1V was measured at 23krpm, and a maximum per-phase AC power of 10µW was delivered on a matched load at 10krpm, which are in full-agreement with the estimations based on theoretical analysis and simulations. The micro-turbo-generator presented in this work is capable of converting gas flow into electricity, and can potentially be coupled to a same-scale combustion engine to convert high-density hydrocarbon energy into electrical power to realize a high-density power source for portable electronic systems.