Physical Sensors & Devices

Research that includes:

  • Silicon MEMS actuators: comb, electro-thermal, and plastic deformation
  • Precision electronic sensing and measurements of capacitive, frequency, and coulombic MEMS variables
  • Structures and architectures for gyroscopes, accelerometers, micro strain gauges for direct application to rigid structures e.g., steel, and levitated MEMS

Jordan L. Edmunds

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Professor Michel M. Maharbiz (Advisor)
Ph.D. 2022

BPN735: Walking Silicon Microrobots

Alexander Alvara

This project focuses on developing a new generation of millimeter scale MEMS-based autonomous walking robots with self-righting capability. These robots are based on electrostatic actuators driving planar silicon linkages, all fabricated in the device layer of a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer. By using electrostatic actuation, these legs have the advantage of being low power compared to other microrobot leg designs. This is key to granting the robot autonomy through low-power energy harvesting. The ultimate goal will be to join these silicon legs with a CMOS brain, battery power, a high...

BPN983: Materials and Devices for Bright UV LEDs (New Project)

Shu Wang

Wide band gap semiconductors are crucial for applications in power electronics, displays, solid-state lightning and many other fields. Due to their intrinsic structure and electronic properties, many wide band gap semiconductors can not be intentionally doped as desired, which limits their role in electronic and optoelectronic devices. In this project, we propose tuning the optoelectronic properties of wide band gap semiconductors electrically to enhance its luminescence efficiency.

BPN988: Low Voltage AC Electroluminescence in Silicon MOS Capacitors (New Project)

I K M Reaz Rahman

Low power silicon based light source and detector are attractive for on-chip photonic circuits given their ease of process integration. However, conventional silicon light emitting diodes emit photons with energies near the band-edge where the corresponding silicon photodetectors lack responsivity. On the other hand, previously reported hot carrier electroluminescent silicon devices utilizing a reverse biased diode require high operating voltages. Here, we investigate hot carrier electroluminescence in silicon metal-oxide-semiconductor capacitors operating under transient...

NT25: VLSI MEMS Switch

Qingquan Liu

Two important advantages of MEMS switches are their ability to survive heat and radiation. In addition, there has been increasing demand for passing transistor replacement in specific reconfigurable computing and signal routing application; passing transistors used in VLSI exhibit on-state resistances of thousands of ohms or more, which causes signal delay and increased power consumption. In this project, the design, fabrication and characterization of MEMS contact switches customized for VLSI are presented, herein referred to as “VLSI MEMS switches”.

Project end...

NT23: Ni Electroplated Vertical Comb-Drive Actuator

Zhihong Li

A low-cost, vertical comb-drive actuator has been developed employing a thick photoresist and electroplating process. The vertical comb-drive actuator (VCA) will be employed for optical applications such as scanning mirrors and optical communication as well as other devices such as tunable capacitors

Project end date: 08/18/04

BPN979: Developing Sweat Rate Sensors Using New Sensing Modalities (New Project)

Ashwin Aggarwal
Manik Dautta
Luis Fernando
Ayala Cardona

The skin surface naturally secretes sweat for thermoregulation during sedentary and physical activities at varying rates, which can sometimes indicate underlying health conditions such as nerve damages or metabolic disorders. As measuring low secretion rates poses a challenge for traditional microfluidic devices, we present new ways to collect such sweat rates precisely.

BPN920: Robust, Multimodal Sweat Sensors with High-Throughput Fabrication

Noelle Davis
Ashwin Aggarwal
Manik Dautta
Luis Fernando
Ayala Cardona

In the field of sweat monitoring, many sensors have been piloted with one or two subjects over limited periods of time, but there is a need for prolonged, large-scale studies to establish reliable physiological correlations that account for diverse subjects, activities, and environments. Chemical sensors provide the concentration of analytes of interest, including sodium, potassium, and glucose, while sweat rate sensors provide standalone information on nerve function and hydration. Monitoring both of these in parallel will enable the decoding of concentrations of analytes that are...

BPN961: Scalable Photonic Integrated Circuits for Trapped Ion Quantum Computers

Daniel Klawson
Chun-Yuan Fan
Rohan Kumar

Quantum computing is a new paradigm of computing that promises exponential performance increases for certain tasks as compared to classical computers. Trapped ions have been identified as a favorable medium – trapped ion quantum computers perform operations on singular atoms with precisely aimed laser pulses calibrated to state transitions within the ions’ energy levels. Bulk free space optics are currently used for qubit manipulation, but the large amount of optical equipment required hinders scalability. Recent pushes to build higher bit systems have identified photonic integrated...

BPN959: Self-Righting for Micro Robots

Alexander Alvara

In developing micro-robots for exploration in non-uniform terrain, it is often the case that robots fall over. This work seeks to provide a solution in the self-righting of autonomous micro-robots to overturn a 1cc, 1 gram cube microrobot with regular octahedral symmetry that has fallen on either of its four sides and overturning said microrobot once upside down. Our design currently consists of a 3-bar linkage in conjunction with an electrostatic inchworm motor. First-generation devices are in fab as of August. Hand analysis indicates that self-righting from any face should be...