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

BPN616: HEaTS: SiC Harsh Environment Pressure Sensors

Kirti R. Mansukhani

The goal of this project is to develop MEMs pressure sensors to survive harsh environments. Harsh environments (high temperature, high pressure, high shock and/or corrosive conditions) are encountered in various applications such as automobile engines, turbines, space, downhole oil and gas drilling, and geothermal logging.

Project end date: 01/28/14

BPN614: HEaTS: 4H-SiC FET Technology for Harsh Environment Sensing Applications

Wei-Cheng Lien

The goal of this research is developing a wireless, multichip sensing module for addressing the inefficiencies in energy use. By doing so, power systems can be advanced by integration of electronics (communication, signal processing, microactuator control, etc.) to be operated at high temperature. Silicon carbide (SiC) has become the candidate for harsh environment sensing technology because its wide bandgap (3.2 eV), excellent chemical stability, high breakdown electric field strength (3-5 MV/cm), and high saturated electron drift velocity (2E7 cm/s). The goal of my research project...

BPN634: Low Voltage and Fast Response Actuators

Zhibin Yu

The conventional electrostatic actuators are operated at very high voltage relative slow response which prevents them from useful applications in providing mobility for making microrobots. There has been a lot of study on making electrostatic actuators based on polymers such as acrylic elastomers, HS3 silicone and silicon NuSil. All these materials need over one thousands volts to operate. We are going to make low operation voltage and fast response actuators using nanowire polymer composites. We are going to deposit polymer thin films on vertically aligned nanotube (nanowire) forest...

BPN653: Biologically-Inspired, Self-Activated Building Envelope Regulation System (SABERS)

Younggeun Park

The objective of this work is to establish self-active building envelope regulation systems (SABERS) by integrating optical and hygrothermal sensor and actuator networks on a thin membrane. The system is specifically designed for lightweight membrane applications such as deployable emergency housing in tropical climates with the aim to supplant the use of traditional air conditioning systems responsible for the most significant energy expenditure in built environments in these regions. The expected outcome of this research is the development of a membrane prototype that consists of a...

BPN448: Integrity Assessment of Underground Power Distribution Cables

Eric Talamantez

A serious worldwide infrastructure problem is the sudden, often dramatic failure of underground high- voltage AC power distribution cables. This research is aimed at finding economical ways of measuring the health of in-service cables operating at tens of kilovolts, to permit their selective replacement.

Project end date: 02/27/14

BPN698: Multifunctional Electronic Skin

Kevin Chen

Flexible sensor networks have promising applications in fields such as touch sensors for touch sensitive prosthetics and wearable medical diagnosis devices. In this project, we aim to fabricate a multifunctional “e-skin” capable of detecting multiple forms of stimuli including light and pressure, so as to be able to mimic the human skin and beyond. Polyimide is spun onto a silicon wafer upon which traditional CMOS technology is used to fabricate flexible thin film transistors based on solution deposited carbon nanotube networks. Various types of sensors are then integrated to create...

BPN755: Carrier-Selective Oxide Contacts for Silicon Electronics

Corsin Battaglia
Xingtian Yin
Steven Chuang
Thomas Rembert
Hiroshi Shiraki

Efficient carrier selective contacts are key to electronic devices based on silicon including sensors, microelectromechanical systems, field effect transistors and photovoltaics. We explore substoichiometric molybdenum trioxide (MoOx, x<3) as a dopant-free, hole-selective contact for silicon. As a proof of principle, we demonstrate a silicon solar cell with a MoOx hole contact delivering a high open-circuit voltage of 711 mV and a power conversion efficiency of 18.8%. Due to the wide band gap of MoOx, we observe a substantial gain in photocurrent of 1.9 mA/cm2 in the ultraviolet...

BPN726: Transparent Microelectrode Arrays for Hybrid Experiments in Neuroscience

Brian Pepin

Optogenetics techniques that have been developed over the previous decade allow cell-type specific optical stimulation of neurons in-vivo. However, it remains a challenge to perform simultaneous electrical recording while providing optical stimulation due to photoelectric artifact generated at the microelectrode recording sites. This project aims to address this challenge by developing bio- compatible microelectrode arrays with optically transparent recording sites. Current devices are optimized for performing electrocorticography (ECoG) experiments and use Indium-Tin Oxide (ITO, a...

BPN741: Programmable Gyroscope Test Platform

Oleg I. Izyumin

This project aims to develop a compact and self-contained universal test platform for DSP-based control of MEMS gyroscopes and resonant sensors. Many operating modes require features not available in off-the-shelf laboratory instruments, and it is difficult to perform sensor testing and validation with laboratory test equipment due to size and power constraints. We have implemented a multi- channel digital lock-in amplifier in FPGA hardware, providing PLLs, modulators, demodulators, filters, and the capability to add custom functionality. Software-based baseband DSP allows...

BPN708: Direct-Write Graphene Channel Field Effect with Self-Aligned Top Gate

Yumeng Liu

The project amis at using Near Field Electrospinnin to fabricate top gate graphene transistor that is capable to pattern the source and drain electrodes through a self-alignment process, and the long range goals is to direct writing graphene transistors onto flexible and transparent substrate for low cost circuit applications, say RF mixer. As the conventional top gated device fabrication process often introduces the deposition of thin inorganic dielectric onto graphene layer with extra surface functionalizations, leading to an undesired damage of graphene lattice, or a non-ideal...