Rarefied gas flow plays an important role in the design and performance analysis of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) under high-vacuum conditions. The rarefaction can be evaluated by the Knudsen number (Kn), which is the ratio of the molecular mean free path length and the characteristic length. In micro systems, the rarefied gas flow usually stays in the slip- and transition-flow regions (10−3 < Kn < 10), and may even go into the free molecular flow region (Kn > 10). As a result, conventional design tools based on continuum Navier-Stokes equation solvers are not applicable to analyzing rarefaction phenomena in MEMS under vacuum conditions. In this paper, we investigate the rarefied gas flow by using the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM), which is suitable for mesoscopic fluid simulation. The gas pressure determines the mean free path length and Kn, which further influences the relaxation time in the collision procedure of LBM. Here, we focus on the problem of squeezed film damping caused by an oscillating rigid object in a cavity. We propose an improved LBM with an immersed boundary approach, where an adjustable force term is used to quantify the interaction between the moving object and adjacent fluid, and further determines the slip velocity. With the proposed approach, the rarefied gas flow in MEMS with squeezed film damping is characterized. Different factors that affect the damping coefficient, such as pressure of gas and frequency of oscillation, are investigated in our simulation studies.

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