Micro-/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS) technology is an emerging technology which uses the tools and techniques developed for the integrated circuit industry to build microscopic machines. These machines can serve a variety of sensing and actuating functions. Since these machines are created with the same tools used to create integrated circuits, they can be cofabricated with microelectronics devices. Fabricating the machines and the electronics side by side enables machines that can have intelligence. These tiny machines are becoming ubiquitous, and are quickly finding their way into a variety of commercial and defense applications. Examples include sensors for inertial navigation, Lab-on-a-Chip technology for chemical and biochemical analysis, large-area high-resolution displays, and nanomechanical computing.
Surface and Interfacial Science and Engineering of M/NEMS
Due to the large surface-to-volume ratio of M/NEMS, surface forces dominate over body forces. While this leads to many of the key advantages of technology at this scale, some of the major issues that inhibit widespread application of MEMS/NEMS are strong adhesion, friction and wear that halt device operations or eventually destroy them. We are developing micro-instruments and methods for in-situ measuring of these interfacial phenomena. We are also examining hard coatings (such as SiC), self assembled monolayers (SAMs) and graphene to tailor surface properties such as wettability, adhesion, and biocompatibility.
Research contacts: Carlo
Silicon Carbide Micro/Nanosystems for
Harsh Environment Applications
Silicon carbide (SiC) is an attractive material for demanding mechanical and high-temperature applications, as well as for use in abrasive, erosive, and corrosive media. It is tough, possesses low-friction characteristics, and is second only to diamond in wear resistance. SiC is also a wide band-gap semiconductor of great interest in high-power, high-temperature, and high-radiation applications. For these reasons, we are developing novel designs and material synthesis and processing strategies for SiC-based M/NEMS sensors. The applications that we are aiming for include sensors and energy storage devices for advanced power systems.Research contacts: Ben, Carlo
R. Maboudian, C. Carraro, “Surface Chemistry and Tribology of MEMS”, (invited) Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, 55, 35-54 (2004).
F. Liu, B. Hsia, C. Carraro, A. P. Pisano, R. Maboudian, “Enhanced Ohmic Contact to Polycrystalline Silicon Carbide via Nanocrystalline Graphitic Carbon Interfacial Layer”, Applied Physics Letters, 97, 262107 (2010).
F. Liu, I. Laboriante, B. Bush, C.R. Roper, C. Carraro, R. Maboudian, “In-situ Studies of Interfacial Contact Evolution via a 2-axis Deflecting Cantilever Microinstrument”, Applied Physics Letters, 95, 131902 (2009).