Creative ideas and exciting applications with challenging scientific breakthroughs
Micro/Nanoelectromechanical Systems (MEMS/NEMS) provide the advantages of small size, low cost, low power consumption, low mass, high reliability, and low maintenance on both the system as well as the component levels. My research interests are to develop and fabricate mechanical machines that are integrated with microelectronics at the micron scale. New device concepts include but are not limited to: the integration of micro-optics components, miniature signal processing devices, biomedical/genome processing devices, miniature electromechanical wireless components (filters, mixers, antennas), miniature opto-electromechanical devices (Optical Cross Connect, optical relays, optical multiplexers, deformable optics), miniature biosensors and environmental sensors, and microfluidics devices. Issues such as self-testing, self-assembly, and automated packaging will be explored.
Like the Integrated Circuits (IC) fabrication, the fabrication process of MEMS is inherently planar. Three-dimensional (3-D) mechanical structures are built by the successive deposition and etching of structural and sacrificial layers of silicon-based materials in the same plane. Therefore, only simple in-plane structures can be constructed. The planar fabrication process limits the designs, functionality, and applications of current MEMS devices. Therefore, the ability to assemble micro parts by robotic micromanipulators would have serious implications. MEMS components such as out-of-plane gears, actuators, cantilevers, sensors, and end-effectors can be assembled. In the world with micro-assembly, micro parts are no longer restricted to 2 or 3 degree-of-freedom (DoF) motion. Multiple DoF micro components will not only enhance the performance and capability of MEMS, but also create new market for the technology.
Nanodevices for Biomedical Applications
On a smaller scale, the potential applications of Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) for biomedical instruments are limitless. CNT exhibit unique properties that include extremely high mechanical strength, high thermal conductivity, excellent chemical and thermal stability. My nanotechnology research thrust will focus on developing novel designs and fabrication concepts based on CNT/nanotechnology for next-generation instruments. The ultimate goal of the research is to realize fully functioning performance-enhanced biomedical nanodevices for clinical deployment.