A short course on Stiff Structures, Compliant Mechanisms, and MEMS in August/September of 2003
at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Instructor: (Suresh) G. K. Ananthasuresh, gksuresh@seas.upenn.edu
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6315, USA.

Time and place
Wednesday & Friday, 3:30-5:00 PM, ME lecture hall, main building on the follwing dates

Outline of the course

Almost all Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) devices rely on compliant structures/mechanisms. The studies on compliant mechanisms (CMs) lie at the interface of principles and procedures of structures and rigid-body mechanisms. The series of lectures will bring out the similarities and differences in structures, mechanisms, and CMs by focusing on analysis and optimal design techniques of CMs and MEMS devices. Analysis of electrostatically actuated MEMS, and synthesis of electro-thermally actuated MEMS will be highlighted. The underlying principles of calculus of variations, constrained minimization, and design parameterization and solution methods of topology optimization will be discussed.

The course consists of six lectures. The duration of each lecture is 90 minutes--with a short break.

Schedule, topics, and PowerPoint (PPT) files

PennSyn software for stiff structures and compliant mechanims

If you wish to try out PennSyn software, please download the following files and run pennsyn.m in Matlab.


  1. "iiscS.yin" and "iiscCM.m" are sample input files, repsectively, for stiff structure and compliant mechanism design problems. Based on these and instructions within the file, you can modify them to your specifications.
  2. When you create an input file, say filename.yin, you need to change line 9 in pennsyn.m to this filename.
  3. pennsyn.m uses filename.yin on line 9, runs pennsynF.exe, and shows the specifications and result in two figure windows. You simply need to type "pennsyn.m" in the Matlab command window.
  4. If there are errors in the input file (filename.yin), unfortunately, no clear errors are reported. You just need to go through the input file to make sure that it is correct.
  5. The deformation profile of the structure/mechanism is shown with a scale factor. The variable "scale" may need to be changed depending on your specifications. Please note that this program uses small deformations. So, the deformations shown by a large scale factors are unrealistic and serve only a visual demonstration of small deformation behavior.

Lecture given to the MEMS class
The following is the lecture given to the MEMS class on Sep. 18th, 2003, on thermal micro actuators (~5.5 MB). It is a variant of lecture 5 above.