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Final Report Summary - NEMS INERTIAL IMAGE (Inertial Imaging with Nanoelectromechanical Systems)

Nanoelectromechanical Systems (NEMS) are electronically controllable, mechanical structures engineered at the nano-scale. Due to their small size and large vibration frequencies, they can be used as high-performance sensors: for instance, NEMS sensors working at high-vacuum and low-temperature can measure the mass of single molecules. It was shown that inertial NEMS sensors can provide further multi-dimensional characterization: in addition to the molecular weight, spatial information of an analyte, such as its size and shape, can be extracted by using higher order modes of a mechanical sensor (Hanay, M. S., et Al., Nature Nanotechnol., 10, 2015, pp 339−344).

NEMS sensors with the ability to resolve both the mass and shape of analyte molecules offer unprecedented, multi-dimensional sensing modalities. In this project, multimodal NEMS devices have been fabricated and transduced using thermo-elastic actuation and piezo-resistive detection. Four-mode simultaneous frequency tracking has been accomplished by parallel phase-locked loops. Different analytes, 20-nm gold nanoparticles and centrioles, have been detected by the NEMS device one by one. By using multi-mode detection algorithms mass, position as well as stiffness for the gold nanoparticles and standard deviation of the size for the centrioles have been calculated. Two-dimensional NEMS resonators, in the form of 100-nm Silicon Nitride membranes, with integrated metallic electrodes have also been fabricated in the context of the project. Moreover, the perturbations on the mode shape of NEMS resonators due to analyte adsorption have been quantified.

During the implementation of the NEMS Inertial Imaging project, the electromagnetic analogue of the same technique was discovered by the researcher. Proof-of-principle demonstration of the electromagnetic analogue was implemented using microwave resonant sensors to size and locate microdroplets and human cells passing through an underlying microfluidic channel. The extension of this electromagnetic analogue into multiple modes has been very recently supported by an ERC Starting Grant, just as the Marie Curie CIG project drew an end.

The project has supported the fellow in establishing a NEMS laboratory in Turkey and developing research networks in Europe. Several junior researchers have been trained in the context of the project, some of whom now continue their research careers in the USA and Europe. The project is expected to have a long-term contribution to the health-care and environmental protection efforts by contributing to low-cost, high-performance sensor technology that can characterize biomolecular samples and particulate pollution.

The project website is:

Reported by

Bilkent Üniversitesi


Life Sciences
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