The axisymmetric snap-through of an initially curved circular micro plate, subjected to a 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 flat plate used as the base functions. In order to check the validity of the RO model, the corresponding problem for a displacement-independent (“mechanical”) load is solved, and a comparison between the RO model and those obtained using finite elements (FE) analysis is carried out. It is shown, that the two are in good agreement, indicating that the RO model can be used for a plate undergoing electrostatic loading. However, the study shows that at least three degrees of freedom (DOF) are required for an accurate prediction of the equilibrium path and bistability. The coupled electromechanical analysis shows that due to the nonlinearity of the electrostatic load, the snap-through occurs at a lower displacement than in the case of the “mechanical” load. Moreover, the study concludes that actuation of plates of realistic dimensions can be achieved by reasonably low voltages.

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