Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Innovation could bring super-accurate sensors, crime forensics

Abstract:
A new technology enabling tiny machines called micro electromechanical systems to "self-calibrate" could make possible super-accurate and precise sensors for crime-scene forensics, environmental testing and medical diagnostics.

By Emil Venere

Innovation could bring super-accurate sensors, crime forensics

West Lafayette, IN | Posted on August 10th, 2010

The innovation might enable researchers to create a "nose-on-a-chip" for tracking criminal suspects, sensors for identifying hazardous solid or gaseous substances, as well as a new class of laboratory tools for specialists working in nanotechnology and biotechnology.

"In the everyday macroscopic world, we can accurately measure distance and mass because we have well-known standards such as rulers or weights that we use to calibrate devices that measure distances or forces," said Jason Vaughn Clark, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering. "But for the micro- or nanoscopic worlds, there have been no standards and no practical ways for measuring very small distances or forces."

The micro electromechanical systems, or MEMS, are promising for an array of high-tech applications.

Researchers previously have used various techniques to gauge the force and movement of tiny objects containing components so small they have to be measured on the scale of micrometers or nanometers, millionths or billionths of a meter, respectively. However, the accuracy of conventional techniques is typically off by 10 percent or more because of their inherent uncertainties, Clark said.

"And due to process variations within fabrication, no two microstructures have the same geometric and material properties," he said.

These small variations in microstructure geometry, stiffness and mass can significantly affect performance.

"A 10 percent change in width can cause a 100 percent change in a microstructure's stiffness," Clark said. "Process variations have made it difficult for researchers to accurately predict the performance of MEMS."

The new technology created by Clark, called electro micro metrology - or EMM - is enabling engineers to account for process variations by determining the precise movement and force that's being applied to, or sensed by, a MEMS device.

"For the first time, MEMS can now truly self-calibrate without any external references," Clark said. "That is, our MEMS are able to determine their unique mechanical performance properties. And in doing so, they become very accurate sensors or actuators."

Research findings were detailed in two papers presented in June during a meeting of the Society of Experimental Mechanics in Indianapolis and at the Nanotech 2010 Conference and Expo in Anaheim, Calif. The work is based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park.

MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes currently are being used in commercial products, including the Nintendo Wii video game, the iPhone, walking robots and automotive airbags.

"Those MEMS work well because they don't need ultra-high precision or accuracy," Clark said. "It is difficult for conventional technology to accurately measure very small forces, such as van der Waals forces between molecules or a phenomenon called the Casimir effect that is due to particles popping in and out of existence everywhere in the universe."

These forces are measured in "piconewtons," a trillionth of the weight of a medium-size apple.

"If we are trying to investigate or exploit picoscale phenomena like Casimir forces, van der Waals forces, the hydrogen bond forces in DNA, high-density data storage or even nanoassembly, we need much higher precision and accuracy than conventional methods provide," Clark said. "With conventional tools, we know we are sensing something, but without accurate measurements it is difficult to fully understand the phenomena, repeat the experiments and create predictive models."

Self-calibration also is needed because microdevices might be exposed to harsh environments or remain dormant for long periods.

"Say you have a MEMS sensor in the environment or on a space probe," Clark said. "You want it to be able to wake up and recalibrate itself to account for changes resulting from temperature differences, changes in the gas or liquid ambient, or other conditions that might affect its properties. That's when self-calibration technology is needed."

EMM defines mechanical properties solely in terms of electrical measurements, which is different than conventional methods, he said.

For example, by measuring changes in an electronic property called capacitance, or the storage of electrical charge, Clark is able to obtain the microstructure's shape, stiffness, force or displacement with high accuracy and precision, he said.

"We can measure capacitance more precisely than we can measure any other quantity to date," he said. "That means we could potentially measure certain mechanical phenomena more precisely by using MEMS than we could by using conventional macroscale measurement tools."

The researcher will use the new approach to improve the accuracy of instruments called atomic force microscopes, which are used by nanotechnologists.

"The atomic force microscope, which jumpstarted the nanotechnology revolution, is often used to investigate small displacements and forces," Clark said. "But the operator of the tool cannot precisely say what distance or force is being sensed beyond one or two significant digits. And the typical operator knows even less about the true accuracy of their measurements."

Purdue operates about 30 atomic force microscopes, and Clark's research group is planning to teach users how to calibrate their instruments using the self-calibrating MEMS.

He also plans to use his new approach to create a miniature self-calibrating "AFM-on-a-chip," dramatically shrinking the size and cost of the laboratory instrument.

"Such an advent should open the door to the nanoworld to a much larger number of groups or individuals," he said.

Clark's research group has fabricated and tested the first generation of self-calibrating MEMS, and repeatable results have shown the presence of the Casimir and van der Waals forces.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

####

For more information, please click here

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


Source:
Jason Vaughn Clark
(765) 494-3437


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

Law enforcement/Anti-Counterfeiting/Security/Loss prevention

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

News and information

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

NEMS

One string to rule them all April 17th, 2018

Leti Scientists Participating in Sessions on Med Tech, Automotive Technologies, MEMS, Si-photonics and Lithography at SEMICON Europa: Teams also Will Demonstrate Technology Advances in Telecom, Data Fusion, Energy, Silicon Photonics and 3D Integration October 18th, 2016

Integration of novel materials with silicon chips makes new 'smart' devices possible July 25th, 2016

Nano-photonics meets nano-mechanics: Controlling on-chip nano-optics by graphene nano-opto-mechanics January 22nd, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

Possible Futures

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

JPK talks with Dr Frank Lafont, Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL) about the use of the NanoWizard® AFM together with fluorescence microscopy in the study of living cells June 19th, 2018

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

Academic/Education

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

SUNY Poly Professor Eric Lifshin Selected for ‘Fellow of the Microanalysis Society’ Position for Significant Contributions to Microanalysis June 13th, 2018

Grand Opening of UC Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI) to Spotlight JEOL Center for Nanoscale Solutions: Renowned Materials Scientists to Present at the 1st International Symposium on Advanced Microscopy and Spectroscopy (ISAMS) April 18th, 2018

Lifeboat Foundation funds flying 3D-printed classroom cubesats with Perlan II April 16th, 2018

MEMS

Executives Explore Key Megatrends and Innovations in MEMS, Sensors, Imaging Tech at SEMI-MSIG European Summits: Speakers to share developments in smart automotive, smart cities, smart industrial, biomedical, consumer and IoT, September 19-21, 2018 in Grenoble, France June 19th, 2018

HTA to Present European Strategy for Competitive Micro- and Nanotechnologies & Smart Systems: Special Event in Brussels on April 24 Gathers Research Institutes’ CEOs, European Commissioners and Key European Industrials April 17th, 2018

New approach to measuring stickiness could aid micro-device design March 8th, 2018

MEMS chips get metatlenses: Combining metasurface lenses with MEMS technology could add high-speed scanning and enhance focusing capability of optical systems February 21st, 2018

Nanomedicine

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

JPK talks with Dr Frank Lafont, Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL) about the use of the NanoWizard® AFM together with fluorescence microscopy in the study of living cells June 19th, 2018

Sensors

Executives Explore Key Megatrends and Innovations in MEMS, Sensors, Imaging Tech at SEMI-MSIG European Summits: Speakers to share developments in smart automotive, smart cities, smart industrial, biomedical, consumer and IoT, September 19-21, 2018 in Grenoble, France June 19th, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

New optical sensor can determine if molecules are left or right 'handed' June 13th, 2018

A nanotech sensor that turns molecular fingerprints into bar codes June 7th, 2018

Announcements

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Homeland Security

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

The dispute about the origins of terahertz photoresponse in graphene results in a draw April 26th, 2018

Environment

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

A nanotech sensor that turns molecular fingerprints into bar codes June 7th, 2018

Engineered polymer membranes could be new option for water treatment May 6th, 2018

Harvesting clean hydrogen fuel through artificial photosynthesis May 3rd, 2018

Nanobiotechnology

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

JPK talks with Dr Frank Lafont, Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL) about the use of the NanoWizard® AFM together with fluorescence microscopy in the study of living cells June 19th, 2018

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project