A microshutter array (MSA) has been developed for use as an aperture array for multi-object selections in James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) technology. Light shields, molybdenum nitride (MoN) coating on shutters, and aluminum/ aluminum oxide coatings on interior walls are put on each shutter for light leak prevention, and to enhance optical contrast. Individual shutters are patterned with a torsion flexure that permits shutters to open 90° with a minimized mechanical stress concentration. The shutters are actuated magnetically, latched, and addressed electrostatically. Also, micromechanical features are tailored onto individual shutters to prevent stiction.

An individual shutter consists of a torsion hinge, a shutter blade, a front electrode that is coated on the shutter blade, a backside electrode that is coated on the interior walls, and a magnetic cobaltiron coating. The magnetic coating is patterned into stripes on microshutters so that shutters can respond to an external magnetic field for the magnetic actuation. A set of column electrodes is placed on top of shutters, and a set of row electrodes on sidewalls is underneath the shutters so that they can be electrostatically latched open.

A linear permanent magnet is aligned with the shutter rows and is positioned above a flipped upside-down array, and sweeps across the array in a direction parallel to shutter columns. As the magnet sweeps across the array, sequential rows of shutters are rotated from their natural horizontal orientation to a vertical open position, where they approach vertical electrodes on the sidewalls. When the electrodes are biased with a sufficient electrostatic force to overcome the mechanical restoring force of torsion bars, shutters remain latched to vertical electrodes in their open state. When the bias is removed, or is insufficient, the shutters return to their horizontal, closed positions. To release a shutter, both the electrode on the shutter and the one on the back wall where the shutter sits are grounded. The shutters with one or both ungrounded electrodes are held open. Sub-micron bumps underneath light shields and silicon ribs on back walls are the two features to prevent stiction.

These features ensure that the microshutter array functions properly in mechanical motions. The MSA technology can be used primarily in multi-object imaging and spectroscopy, photomask generation, light switches, and in the stepper equipment used to make integrated circuits and MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) devices.

This work was done by Samuel Moseley, Mary Li, and Alexander Kutyrev of the University of Maryland, College Park; Gunther Kletetschka of the Catholic University of America; and Rainer Fettig of Raytheon Company for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-15998-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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