Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > New 'nano-positioners' may have atomic-scale precision

This illustration depicts a tiny device called a monolithic comb drive, which might be used as a high-precision "nanopositioner" for such uses as biological sensors, computer hard drives and other possible applications. The device was created by Jason Vaughn Clark, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering at Purdue University. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)
This illustration depicts a tiny device called a monolithic comb drive, which might be used as a high-precision "nanopositioner" for such uses as biological sensors, computer hard drives and other possible applications. The device was created by Jason Vaughn Clark, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering at Purdue University. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)

Abstract:

Engineers have created a tiny motorized positioning device that has twice the dexterity of similar devices being developed for applications that include biological sensors and more compact, powerful computer hard drives.

New 'nano-positioners' may have atomic-scale precision

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN | Posted on August 20th, 2008

The device, called a monolithic comb drive, might be used as a "nanoscale manipulator" that precisely moves or senses movement and forces. The devices also can be used in watery environments for probing biological molecules, said Jason Vaughn Clark, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering, who created the design.

The monolithic comb drives could make it possible to improve a class of probe-based sensors that detect viruses and biological molecules. The sensors detect objects using two different components: A probe is moved while at the same time the platform holding the specimen is positioned. The new technology would replace both components with a single one - the monolithic comb drive.

The innovation could allow sensors to work faster and at higher resolution and would be small enough to fit on a microchip. The higher resolution might be used to design future computer hard drives capable of high-density data storage and retrieval. Another possible use might be to fabricate or assemble miniature micro and nanoscale machines.

Research findings were detailed in a technical paper presented in July during the University Government Industry Micro/Nano Symposium in Louisville. The work is based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue's Discovery Park.

Conventional comb drives have a pair of comblike sections with "interdigitated fingers," meaning they mesh together. These meshing fingers are drawn toward each other when a voltage is applied. The applied voltage causes the fingers on one comb to become positively charged and the fingers on the other comb to become negatively charged, inducing an attraction between the oppositely charged fingers. If the voltage is removed, the spring-loaded comb sections return to their original position.

By comparison, the new monolithic device has a single structure with two perpendicular comb drives.

Clark calls the device monolithic because it contains comb drive components that are not mechanically and electrically separate. Conventional comb drives are structurally "decoupled" to keep opposite charges separated.

"Comb drives represent an advantage over other technologies," Clark said. "In contrast to piezoelectric actuators that typically deflect, or move, a fraction of a micrometer, comb drives can deflect tens to hundreds of micrometers. And unlike conventional comb drives, which only move in one direction, our new device can move in two directions - left to right, forward and backward - an advance that could really open up the door for many applications."

Clark also has invented a way to determine the precise deflection and force of such microdevices while reducing heat-induced vibrations that could interfere with measurements.

Current probe-based biological sensors have a resolution of about 20 nanometers.

"Twenty nanometers is about the size of 200 atoms, so if you are scanning for a particular molecule, it may be hard to find," Clark said. "With our design, the higher atomic-scale resolution should make it easier to find."

Properly using such devices requires engineers to know precisely how much force is being applied to comb drive sensors and how far they are moving. The new design is based on a technology created by Clark called electro micro metrology, which enables engineers to determine the precise displacement and force that's being applied to, or by, a comb drive. The Purdue researcher is able to measure this force by comparing changes in electrical properties such as capacitance or voltage.

Clark used computational methods called nodal analysis and finite element analysis to design, model and simulate the monolithic comb drives.

The research paper describes how the monolithic comb drive works when voltage is applied. The results show independent left-right and forward-backward movement as functions of applied voltage in color-coded graphics.

The findings are an extension of research to create an ultra-precise measuring system for devices having features on the size scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter. Clark has led research to create devices that "self-calibrate," meaning they are able to precisely measure themselves. Such measuring methods and standards are needed to better understand and exploit nanometer-scale devices.

The size of the entire device is less than one millimeter, or a thousandth of a meter. The smallest feature size is about three micrometers, roughly one-thirtieth as wide as a human hair.

"You can make them smaller, though," Clark said. "This is a proof of concept. The technology I'm developing should allow researchers to practically and efficiently extract dozens of geometric and material properties of their microdevices just by electronically probing changes in capacitance or voltage."

In addition to finite element analysis, Clark used a simulation tool that he developed called Sugar.

"Sugar is fast and allows me to easily try out many design ideas," he said. "After I narrow down to a particular design, I then use finite element analysis for fine-tuning. Finite element analysis is slow, but it is able to model subtle physical phenomena that Sugar doesn't do as well."

Clark's research team is installing Sugar on the nanoHub this summer, making the tool available to other researchers. The nanoHub is operated by the Network for Computational Nanotechnology, funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center.

The researchers also are in the process of fabricating the devices at the Birck Nanotechnology Center.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Writer:
Emil Venere
(765) 494-4709


Sources:
Jason Vaughn Clark
(765) 494-3437


Purdue News Service:
(765) 494-2096

Copyright © Purdue University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

HP Supercomputer at NREL Garners Top Honor October 19th, 2014

First Canada Excellence Research Chair gets $10 million from the federal government for oilsands research at the University of Calgary: Federal government announces prestigious research chair to study improving oil production efficiency October 19th, 2014

Ucore's McKenzie to Deliver Presentation to Rare Earths Conference in Singapore as Highlight of Fall 2014 Marketplace Schedule October 19th, 2014

Non-Toxic Nanocatalysts Open New Window for Significant Decrease in Reaction Process October 19th, 2014

Molecular Nanotechnology

Fast, cheap nanomanufacturing: Arrays of tiny conical tips that eject ionized materials could fabricate nanoscale devices cheaply October 4th, 2014

Nano-bearings on the test bench: Fullerene spheres can be used to slide in the nanoworld October 3rd, 2014

Penn Team Studies Nanocrystals by Passing Them Through Tiny Pores September 26th, 2014

Nanoscale assembly line August 29th, 2014

Memory Technology

Superconducting circuits, simplified: New circuit design could unlock the power of experimental superconducting computer chips October 18th, 2014

Future computers could be built from magnetic 'tornadoes' October 14th, 2014

Research mimics brain cells to boost memory power September 30th, 2014

SouthWest NanoTechnologies (SWeNT) Receives NIST Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 Award to Produce Greater than 99% Semiconducting Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes September 19th, 2014

Sensors

Graphenea opens US branch October 16th, 2014

IRLYNX and CEA-Leti to Streamline New CMOS-based Infrared Sensing Modules Dedicated to Human-activities Characterization October 15th, 2014

Nanodevices for clinical diagnostic with potential for the international market: The development is based on optical principles and provides precision and allows saving vital time for the patient October 15th, 2014

Microrobots armed with new force-sensing system to probe cells October 13th, 2014

Discoveries

Non-Toxic Nanocatalysts Open New Window for Significant Decrease in Reaction Process October 19th, 2014

Plastic nanoparticles also harm freshwater organisms October 18th, 2014

Superconducting circuits, simplified: New circuit design could unlock the power of experimental superconducting computer chips October 18th, 2014

Nanotechnology Improves Quality of Anti-Corrosive Coatings October 17th, 2014

Announcements

HP Supercomputer at NREL Garners Top Honor October 19th, 2014

First Canada Excellence Research Chair gets $10 million from the federal government for oilsands research at the University of Calgary: Federal government announces prestigious research chair to study improving oil production efficiency October 19th, 2014

Ucore's McKenzie to Deliver Presentation to Rare Earths Conference in Singapore as Highlight of Fall 2014 Marketplace Schedule October 19th, 2014

Non-Toxic Nanocatalysts Open New Window for Significant Decrease in Reaction Process October 19th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE





  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE