This paper presents a review of electrothermal micro-actuators and applications. Electrothermal micro-actuators have been a significant research interest over the last two decades, and many different designs and applications have been investigated. The electrothermal actuation method offers several advantages when compared with the other types of actuation approaches based on electrostatic and piezoelectric principles. The electrothermal method offers flexibility in the choice of materials, low-cost fabrication, and large displacement capabilities. The three main configurations of electrothermal actuators are discussed: hot-and-cold-arm, chevron, and bimorph types as well as a few other unconventional actuation approaches. Within each type, trends are outlined from the basic concept and design modifications to applications which have been investigated in order to enhance the performance or to overcome the limitations of the previous designs. It provides a grasp of the actuation methodology, design, and fabrication, and the related performance and applications in cell manipulation, micro assembly, and mechanical testing of nanomaterials, Radio Frequency (RF) switches, and optical Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS).
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