Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanotechnology: Feel the pressure

29.03.2012
Nanowires have superior electrical and mechanical properties and can be put to good use in pressure sensors
Miniaturized pressure sensors are widely used in mechanical and biomedical applications, for example, in gauging fuel pressure in cars or in monitoring blood pressure in patients. Woo-Tae Park and co-workers at the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics1 have now developed a nanowire-based sensor that is so sensitive it can detect even very low pressure changes.

Most miniaturized pressure sensors harness the intrinsic properties of piezoresistive materials. A structural change in such a material, induced for example by an external force, results in a complementary change in its electrical resistance. However, piezoresistive materials have two major limitations. Firstly, these materials are not particularly sensitive, which means that low pressures produce weak electronic signals. Secondly, these materials can generate a lot of electrical noise, which can mask the true measurement signal. An ideal transducer should have a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Park and his co-workers have now used nanowires to create a pressure sensor with enhanced SNR properties.

Previous research has shown that nanowires can exhibit high piezoresistive effects because of their small size. To take advantage of this, Park and his co-workers used state-of-the-art material processing techniques to suspend two silicon nanowires between two electrodes on a silicon-on-insulator substrate. Each wire was a few hundred nanometers long and approximately 10 nanometers wide. They were covered in amorphous silicon which both protected them and acted as an electrical connection, referred to as the gate. The researchers attached to this a circular diaphragm: a two-layer membrane of silicon nitride and silicon dioxide. Any stress in the diaphragm was therefore transferred to the nanowire structure.

The team characterized their sensor by passing a controlled stream of air across it. Ammeters measured the current flowing through the device as a known electrical potential was applied across the two electrodes. An additional voltage, the gate bias, was also applied between one of the electrodes and the gate. Park and his co-workers demonstrated that they could achieve a four-fold increase in pressure sensitivity by reversing the direction of this gate bias. This, they believe, is a result of the bias voltage controlling the confinement of the electrons within the nanowire channels — a concept commonly employed in so-called field-effect transistors. An assessment of the device noise characteristics also showed significant improvements with the right choice of operating parameters.

Park and his co-workers believe that the device provides a promising route for applications requiring miniaturized pressure sensors that use little power.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Microelectronics

Lee Swee Heng | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Studying how unconventional metals behave, with an eye on high-temperature superconductors
13.12.2018 | Princeton University

nachricht An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes
13.12.2018 | Rutgers University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>