Symmetry breaking in an initially curved pre-stressed micro beam loaded by a distributed electrostatic force

Lior Medina, Rivka Gilat, Slava Krylov

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61 Scopus citations


The symmetric and asymmetric buckling of an initially curved micro beam subjected to an axial pre-stressing load and transversal distributed electrostatic force is studied. The analysis is based on a reduced order (RO) model resulting from the Galerkin decomposition with buckling modes of a straight beam used as the base functions. The criteria of symmetric limit point buckling and of non-symmetric bifurcation are derived in terms of the geometric parameters of the beam and the axial load. Two symmetry breaking conditions, defining the relations between the axial load and the geometric parameters of beams for which an asymmetric response bifurcates from the symmetric one, are obtained. The necessary criterion establishes the conditions for the appearance of bifurcation points on the unstable branch of the symmetric response curve; the sufficient criterion assures a realistic asymmetric buckling bifurcating from the stable branches of the symmetric response curve. A comparison between the RO model results and those obtained by direct numerical analysis shows good agreement between the two and indicates that the obtained criteria can be used to predict symmetric and non-symmetric buckling in electrostatically actuated curved pre-stressed micro beams. It is shown that while the symmetry breaking conditions are affected by the nonlinearity of the electrostatic force, its influence is less pronounced than in the case of the symmetric snap-through criterion. The nature of the latter and the relations between it and the symmetry breaking criteria are found to go through a prominent qualitative change as the initial distance between the beam and the electrode, characterizing the electrostatic force, changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2047-2061
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • Axial pre-stress force
  • Bistability
  • Curved micro beam
  • Electrostatic force
  • Non-symmetric buckling criteria
  • Snap-through buckling
  • Symmetric buckling criterion


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