Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

CAREER: Resonant MEMS for Sensing Applications

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorKimberly Turner
InstitutionUniversity of California-Santa Barbara
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsMarginal
Class of NanomaterialGeneric
Impact SectorCross-cutting
Broad Research Categories Characterization
NNI identifier

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$380,999.00
Annual Funding$76,199.80
Funding SourceNSF
Funding MechanismExtramural
Funding SectorGovernment
Start Year2001
Anticipated End Year2006


Applications utilizing microelectromechanical system (MEMS) components are becoming increasingly more numerous and important. A hallmark of MEMS is that unlike merely miniaturizing existing designs and ideas, it provides an innovative technology which will enable experiments in biology, nanotechnology, materials, and physics which have not been previously achievable. However, to make these devices robust, and improve on the sensitivity of existing sensors, new ideas must be employed in sensor design, as well as in calibration, test and characterization, and fabrication. The research goals of this proposal are to design, build, and test dynamic MEMS sensors for mass (chemical) and pressure which possess high sensitivity due to unique dynamic effects; to extend the understanding of parametric oscillators to coupled systems, and develop tunable filter applications. An integrated educational program is also proposed that uses the aforementioned sensors in internet-based experiments geared toward eighth grade students, and uses the above sensors as demonstration and teaching modules in the newly formed MEMS undergraduate curriculum at UCSB. One important class of devices, on which this proposal is based, is dynamic MEMS. Vibratory sensors can often provide higher sensitivity than that shown with static, or quasi-static devices. In this proposal, the PI plans to achieve important results in fundamental understanding of the dynamics of microsystems. Unique designs for resonant MEMS having applications in bio (chemical) sensors, tunable mechanical filters, switches, and pressure sensors are proposed, as well as the fundamental science which enables them. As well as studying single oscillators, studying systems of coupled oscillators will lead to a deeper understanding of electrostatic and mechanical coupling between nearby elements, which also has widespread benefit. MEMS and Nanoelectromechanical Systems (NEMS) provide a unique opportunity to introduce people to science at varying degrees of complexity. Using the internet (www), interactive modules are proposed which aim to interest potential young scientists about the future in micro-engineering. Web modules also provide a non-gender specific way of presenting interesting science to students. The novelty of MEMS devices can draw and maintain the interest of young people, and illustrate fundamental physics principles, as well as give students an idea about what makes engineering an exciting career choice. Through existing programs at UCSB, a middle school teacher will spend part of the summer in the PI’s research lab developing the web-based experiments, and learning the necessary skills to teach the material in the classroom. Dynamic MEMS provide an engaging educational medium, as well as tools which will lead to important advances in sensing, filters, and data storage. This proposal aims to address some of the fundamental issues in micro-sensor development, as well as use the simplicity and novelty of micro-devices to encourage middle school students to pursue exciting areas of science.