Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - HARNESS (Advanced Resonant Nano Electromechanical SystemS)

Resonant nano-electro-mechanical systems (NEMS) have been showing outstanding performance as mass, force, charge and magnetic sensors. However, their predicted ultimate limits of detection are far from being achieved. It is the main purpose of this project to study and analyze the different sources of dissipation and frequency instability that determine the final performance of NEMS devices, to convey specificity to NEMS-based mass sensors and to broaden current fields of applications. This will be tackled using piezoelectric (PZE) transduction due to its high linearity and non-dissipative nature. Three work packages will be pursued, one covering each one of the objectives mentioned below. Devices will be respectively analyzed in vacuum, air and interacting with liquid; and the intent is to optimize the performance in each environment separately and demonstrate the feasibility for commercial applications of some of the fabricated devices.
Therefore, the main objective of the project is to develop NEMS technology close to be ready for commercialization in certain application fields, and to do this we can subdivide this main goal into the following tasks/objectives:
1. Reach fundamental detection limits for NEMS
2. Convey specificity to gas sensors
3. Detect cellular stiffness

During this period, we have proven experimentally the existence of a fundamental noise source that limits the performance of devices and that directly causes frequency fluctuations of the device. Tha actual origin of this noise source still remains unknown. We have discarded many (if not all) the usual suspects, e.g. temperature fluctuations, adsorption-desorption, surface diffusion, charge fluctuations, dislocation movement, etc. Within the next 18 months we expect to gather more information about the source of this noise in order to reach the fundamental detection limits of these devices.
In parallel, we have fabricated gas chromatography micro-columns to be coupled with our NEMS devices operating in gas environment and we have started the fabrication of a set of devices targeting what we call multi-physical sensors. We expect that the combination of these sensors together with the developed micro-columns will enable detection of complex mixtures of up to 100 gases.
The final part of our development has focused on the fabrication of suspended micro-channels. We have been able to develop three different fabrication processes, each one of them improving the yield of the previous one, for a current figure of 95% yield. We have also developed simulation tools to analyze the behavior of these structures, where Fluid-Structure-Interaction plays a major role. In the next few months we are going to start inserting non-newtonian fluids and cells within these nanochannels to measure viscoelastic properties.

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