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By perfecting a technique to control the vibrations of high frequency nano-cantilevers, Canadian physicists have overcome a roadblock to using nano-electro-mechanical systems (NEMS) for digital logic and memory applications and have, taken the first sub-nanosecond mechanical measurements of NEMS.
Physicists working at Canada's National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT), the University of Alberta, and Norcada Inc. have perfected a technique for controlling the oscillation of NEMS. They can turn on and turn off the oscillation of the resonator in less than one oscillation cycle. The technique, likened to un-ringing a bell, fully stops the cantilever vibration in less than a nanosecond. This level of control over nano-cantilever resonators makes it much more likely they could be used as digital devices in ICT memory and computation.
This technique is described in a new paper published on-line in Nature Nanotechnology on November 2, 2008 The paper describes a novel approach to measuring high frequency cantilevers and imaging the vibrational modes. It also establishes a new record for high frequency NEMS cantilevers - over one gigahertz - in a simple silicon-on-insulator platform.
The combination of perfecting the control technique and breaking the one GHz barrier for cantilevers increase the likelihood of NEMS applications in information and communication technology. Principal Investigator Mark Freeman described the new potential for NEMS, "The ability to control the oscillation - stopping it in less than a nanosecond - eliminates the drawback of slow switching speed in NEMS and enhances possibilities for use in future ICT applications."
The paper is titled "Time-domain control of ultrahigh-frequency nanomechanical systems" and is now available on-line at the Nature Nanotechnology site.
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National Institute for Nanotechnology
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