Aero Thermal & Mechanical Systems
Niskayuna, NY USA
Walk into a dark room and flip a light switch on.
This simple action connected an electrical circuit and caused a light to illuminate the room. That switch is a mechanical relay. Relays are fundamental building blocks that allow circuits to be operated and are found in every day products. At GE Global Research, we miniaturized the relay using MEMS technology to create ultra small switches (about the width of a single hair strand) that are able to turn electrical systems, such as a light bulb, on and off. Historically, MEMS devices have been made to sense or control signals. Our MEMS microswitch is able to switch and control power; not just signal power but hundreds of watts, even kilowatts of power.
Now MEMS switches are nothing new, people have been researching and developing this technology for well over a decade. What we have done at Global Research is develop the materials, the designs and the fabrication techniques that extend this miniature switching technology’s power handling capability by nearly 2 orders of magnitude. This enables our MEMS microswitch devices to serve a wide range of applications from handheld electronics such as cell phones, to relays that control lighting and even electrical protection devices such as circuit breakers.