A New Fabrication Route for Ceramic MEMS-Based Micropropulsion System - Soft Molding Technique Using Submicron Alumina Particles and Preceramic Polymer

K. H. Cheah, C. L. Chiang, J. K. Chin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


A ceramic MEMS-based microthruster system was fabricated using a new fabrication route. The system consists of four major components: propellant reservoir, injector, electrodes and micronozzle, integrated into a single volume of 20mm X 20mm X 4mm. The fabrication process starts with transferring the pattern of microthruster design into a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) soft mold using conventional lithography technique. A well-dispersed suspension of submicron alumina powder and polysilazane (PSZ) preceramic resin was prepared and casted onto the soft mold. The dried green ceramic part was then sintered at a relatively low temperature of 1200 degree C to form Al2O 3-SiO2 ceramic composite. Shrinkage of about 20% was noticed after sintering. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) inspection reveals good shape retention on microstructures after the molding and sintering process. Thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) verifies exceptional thermal properties of the ceramic composite as weight loss as small as 1.3wt% was observed even at temperature of 1000 degree C. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) proves the formation of Al2O3-SiO2 composite as only elements of Al, O and Si were detected along with a negligible amount of residual carbon. The success in fabrication of microthruster system using ceramic composite is very beneficial for development of high performance liquid and solid propellant micropropulsion systems which require structural materials that able to operate under high temperature, oxidative and corrosive environment as a result of propellant combustion. In addition, the new fabrication route hold the promise for fabrication of micropropulsion system using different ceramic composites, such as SiC, SiCN, mullite, etc, allowing the designers to tailor suitable material properties according to different system requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication62nd International Astronautical Congress 2011(IAC 2011)
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781618398055
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event62nd International Astronautical Congress - Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 3 Oct 20117 Oct 2011


Conference62nd International Astronautical Congress
Abbreviated titleIAC 2011
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
CityCape Town
Internet address


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