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Materials for MEMS/NEMS


Fig. 1 ZnO microbowls synthesized by microwave assisted growth


Fig. 2 Graphene on electroplated Copper

Piezoelectric and piezoresistive materials are likely to play a major role in the development of micro and nano scales sensors and actuators. The transduction mechanism they provide for coupling mechanical and electrical energy domains is ideal for small scale transducers. A piezoresistor with low impedance, high gauge factor, and CMOS process compatibility can lead to the development of a host of self-sensing structures. Similarly, CMOS process compatible piezoelectric materials with high coupling coefficients can help tremendously in the development of energy harvesters that can, in turn, make MEMS and NEMS sensor systems autonomous. It is this theme that guides our work on the development of such materials. Prof. Rudra Pratap’s group is pursuing controlled electromigration induced nanoscale perturbations in structural topology of metallic films in order to enhance their piezoresistive sensitivity. This work has opened new frontiers in the dynamics of phase transformation and material transport at very small length scales. Preliminary studies indicate exciting possibilities in electric field mediated patterning and nanoscale material transport. They are also developing ZnO nanostructures with very high piezoelectric coupling coefficients for energy harvesting applications.

Assistant Professor