Compared with conventional solid-state relays, micro-electro mechanical system (MEMS) relays have the advantages of high isolation, low contact resistance, low power consumption, and abrupt switching characteristics. Nevertheless, the widespread application of MEMS relays has been limited due to the issue of the conflict between low actuation voltages and high device performance. This article presents a novel cantilever MEMS relay with an embedded contact electrode which helps to achieve a low actuation voltage (below 8 V) and high restoring force simultaneously. Meanwhile, the contact resistance is as low as around 0.4 Ω and the reliability is verified. To thoroughly investigate and analyze the novel cantilever MEMS relay, a static theoretical model of the structure was developed. Based on the model, the cantilever MEMS relay was designed and optimized. Then, the relays were fabricated by the bulk-silicon micromachining process based on the silicon–glass anodic bonding technology. Finally, the switching performance of the novel cantilever MEMS relay was measured. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed MEMS relay has a low actuation voltage below 8 V and high performance, which is in good agreement with the simulation results, and shows significant advantages when compared with previous reports. Therefore, the proposed MEMS relay with an embedded contact electrode is promising in practical applications.
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