Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering, PhD

Committee Chair

Harnett, Cindy

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Running, Mark

Committee Member

Running, Mark

Committee Member

Naber, John

Committee Member

McNamara, Shamus

Author's Keywords

MEMS; Microgrippers; Microcantilevers; sensors; thermal actuators; microfabrication


Advancements in microscale actuating technologies has substantially expanded the possibilities of interacting with the surrounding environment. Microstructures that deflect in response to mechanical forces are one of the largest application areas of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). MEMS devices, functioning as sensors, actuators, and support structures, find applications in inertial sensors, pressure sensors, chemical sensors, and robotics, among others. Driven by the critical role of catalytic membrane reactors, this dissertation aims to evaluate enzyme activity on polymeric membranes and explore how fabrication methods from the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) can incorporate sensing and actuation into these porous surfaces. Toward better understanding of conditions in flowing systems, this dissertation investigates how MEMS devices perform in flows, demonstrating a set of thin-film out of plane cantilevers that deflect in the flow velocity range of 0.5 to 5.7 mm/s in high viscosity solution (glycerol). We show with the same processing methods, MEMS devices can be developed for actuation over angles 0 to 90 degrees at speeds in the millisecond range and for resistive temperature sensing (temperature range 20 to 500 °C). Finally, this dissertation presents an innovative packaging approach that employs mechanical tangling, allowing the integration of MEMS microgrippers with fibrous materials commonly used in wearables, soft robotics, and applications requiring large deformation.