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MEMS Micro-Pumps for a Cryogenic Heat Transport System

In micro-satellites, delicate instruments are compacted into a limited space. This raises concerns of active cooling and remote cooling. Silicon based micro-pump arrays are employed thanks to manufacturing simplicity, a small cryogen charge, etc, and keep the instruments within a narrow cryogenic temperature range. The pumping capacity and reliability of the micro-pump are critical in terms of heat balance calculation and lifetime evaluation. The pumping capacity is associated with the diaphragm deflection while the reliability is associated with stress and fatigue. Both of them heavily depend on the silicon diaphragm, one of the key components. This research examines the pumping capacity and reliability of the micro-pump under cryogenic temperature for micro-satellite applications. In particular, a fatigue testing was conducted for 1.8 million cycles with no damage found, verifying silicon as a viable material for long time operation in a cryogenic environment.

Representative Publications (#denotes graduate students/postdocs supervised by X. Zhang; *denotes corresponding author by X. Zhang; +denotes contributed equally.)

X. Zhang*, Y. Zhao#, B. Li#, and D. Ludlow#, "Pumping Capacity and Reliability of Cryogenic Micro-Pump for Micro-Satellite Applications," Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, 2004, 14(10): 1421-1429. [DOI]

M.S. THesis

Daryl Ludlow, "Study of a Silicon Micropump for Use in Circulating Coolant in a Cryogenic Refrigeration System," M.S. Thesis, Boston University. (Advisor: Xin Zhang; May 2003)

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