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Gas Flows in Micro Electro Mechanical Systems

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Networking and training for better microsystems research

An EU-funded initiative has established a Europe-wide network for advancing research on gas in microflow systems. This is being complemented with training activities for early-stage and experienced researchers.

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Gas flows in microsystems hold great interest for various applications in a wide range of industrial fields. One of their main characteristics is rarefaction - the decrease in a medium's density and pressure brought about by the passage of a sound wave. For work to advance in this area, further information is needed on the effects of interactions between the gas and the wall, as well as more sound modelling approaches. Although various collaborations and national networks focused on gas microflows exist, the field lacks global coordination of related research efforts. The 'Gas flows in micro electro mechanical systems' (Gasmems) project is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) supported by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), aimed at establishing a European network of researchers in the field of rarefied gas flows in micro electromechanical systems. The initiative's primary objectives include structuring research in Europe, and training early-stage researchers (ESRs) and experienced researchers (ERs) at pan-European level. Successes in the first area aim at improving global fundamental knowledge and enabling technological applications at industrial and commercial levels. Activities in the second area focus on providing a global overview of related problems and advancing skills in the field's specific research domains. Project partners originally recruited 15 ESRs, 4 ERs and 2 visiting scientists (VSs) to work in three complementary fields: dynamics of gas microflows, heat transfer in gas microflows and gas-materials interactions. Two Gasmems events hosting an average of 50 participants have already been successfully organised, and a number of executive and supervisory meetings realised. The project has launched its own website for communicating network activities and enabling scientific exchanges within the network. Cross-supervision of work performed by ESRs and ERs by task and group coordinators has boosted interaction between complementary individual projects. This has proved successful from both the scientific and training points of view. Study activities have produced significant scientific results in modelling and gas microflows simulations, and facilitated work on the development of new experimental techniques. Specific fabrication techniques have been implemented and newly manufactured microdevices and sensor arrays are supporting experimental work, and thus the analysis of developed theoretical models and numerical simulations. Various Gasmems results have been published in international journal papers and international conference proceedings, with other communications disseminated at scientific conferences and lectures.

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