Microactuators are used to convert electrical
energy into mechanical energy (and vice-versa) in a variety of microsystems.
This can mean moving micromirrors for scanning lasers, driving cutting
tools for microsurgical applications and operating micropumps and
valves for microanalysis or microfluidic systems. Microactuator
production is a highly competitive area, with the US and Japan occupying
This project aimed to develop a new range of
lead zirconate titanate (PZT) multilayer microactuators. The new
devices are composed of very thin ceramic layers allowing them to
operate at low voltages (10 volts), at increased speeds and on the
same circuits as other devices.
Furthermore, their manufacture is extremely
Partners included three companies, a research institute and two
universities. The new components are now in production and are being
distributed mainly on the European market. Customers include manufactures
of ink jet printers, deformable mirrors, fuel injector valves and
many other items.