Microsystem Technologies

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 2409–2417 | Cite as

Electro-thermal analysis of an Al–Ti multilayer thin film microheater for MEMS thruster application

  • Xingchen Li
  • Yiyong Huang
  • Xiaoqian Chen
  • Xiangming Xu
  • Dingbang Xiao
Technical Paper


A multilayer thin film aluminum/titanium (Al/Ti) microheater is developed for the microthruster liquid propellant vaporizing and gas heating for increasing the specific impulse. The microheater was fabricated onto a Pyrex 7740 substrate using a Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems processing technology. A finite-element based multiphysics simulation was employed to simulate the microheater performance. The distribution of temperature and variation of the thermal deformation are simulated in modeling with the different input power. And the simulation shows that heat loss of the microheater is relatively low comparing with the normal heater. Subsequently an experimental testing of the microheater performance based on infrared imaging device was actualized with applied voltage from 5 to 36 V. An auger electron spectroscopy detection was employed to validating the assumption that Al layer oxidizing is the main reason of temperature higher in the test than simulation.

List of symbols


Material density


Heat flux tensor


Heat capacity at constant pressure


Thermal conductivity


Thermo elastic damping


Thin layer thickness


Thin layer heat flux tensor


Layer heat transfer coefficient


Potential difference




External current density tensor


Current source





This work is supported by the Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant numbers 61690210 and 61690213.


  1. Cahill DG, Goodson K, Majumdar A (2014) Thermometry and thermal transport in micro/nanoscale solid-state devices and structures. J Heat Transf 124(2):222–241Google Scholar
  2. Cheah KH, Kai SK, Chiang CL, Chin JK (2011) Progress on development of Al2O3–SiO2 ceramic MEMS-based monopropellant micropropulsion system. In: 47th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, Joint Propulsion Conferences.
  3. Chen G (2013) Thermal conductivity and heat conduction in nanostructures: modeling, experiments, and applications. In: AIAA thermophysics conference, vol 504, pp 416–420Google Scholar
  4. Cofer AG, O’Neill WJ, Heister SD, Alexeenko A, Cardiff EH (2015) Film-evaporation MEMS tunable array for low-mass SmallSat propulsion: design improvements and thrust characterization. In: 51st AIAA/SAE/ASEE joint propulsion conference, AIAA propulsion and energy forum (AIAA 2015–3993).
  5. Dolci S, Dell’Amico DB, Pasini A, Torre L, Pace G, Valentini D (2015) Platinum catalysts development for 98% hydrogen peroxide decomposition in pulsed monopropellant thrusters. J Propuls Power 31(4):1204–1216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fecht HJ, Friedberger A (2011) Microthruster with integrated platinum thin film resistance temperature detector (RTD), heater, and thermal insulation. In: Proceedings of SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering, vol 8066(1), pp 806604–806604-7Google Scholar
  7. Haynes WM (2017) CRC handbook of chemistry and physics. CRC PressGoogle Scholar
  8. Kundu P, Bhattacharyya TK, Das S (2014) Electro-thermal analysis of an embedded boron diffused microheater for thruster applications. Microsyst Technol 20(1):23–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lee J, Kim K, Kwon S (2010) Design, fabrication, and testing of MEMS solid propellant thruster array chip on glass wafer. Sens Actuators A 157(1):126–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Louisos WF, Hitt DL (2008) Viscous effects on performance of two-dimensional supersonic linear micronozzles. J Spacecr Rockets 45(4):706–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mirmira SR, Fletcher LS (1998) Review of the thermal conductivity of thin films. J Thermophys Heat Transf 12(12):121–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Seo D, Lee J, Kwon S (2012) The development of the micro-solid propellant thruster array with improved repeatability. J Micromech Microeng 22(9):094004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Tanaka S, Kondo K, Habu H, Itoh A, Watanabe M, Hori K, Esashi M (2008) Test of B/Ti multilayer reactive igniters for a micro solid rocket array thruster. Sens Actuators A 144(2):361–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Torre FL, Kenjereš S, Moerel JL, Kleijn CR (2011) Hybrid simulations of rarefied supersonic gas flows in micro-nozzles. Comput Fluids 49(1):312–322MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  15. Zhang KL, Chou SK, Ang SS (2004) Development of a solid propellant microthruster with chamber and nozzle etched on a wafer surface. J Micromech Microeng 14(6):785–792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Zhang KL, Chou SK, Ang SS (2007) Fabrication, modeling and testing of a thin film Au/Ti microheater. Int J Therm Sci 46(6):580–588CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xingchen Li
    • 1
  • Yiyong Huang
    • 1
  • Xiaoqian Chen
    • 1
  • Xiangming Xu
    • 2
  • Dingbang Xiao
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Aerospace Science and EngineeringNational University of Defense TechnologyChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Mechatronic Engineering and AutomationNational University of Defense TechnologyChangshaPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations