Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny 'MEMS' Devices To Filter, Amplify Electronic Signals

Date:
August 31, 2009
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Researchers are developing a new class of tiny mechanical devices containing vibrating, hair-thin structures that could be used to filter electronic signals in cell phones and for other more exotic applications.

Researchers are developing a new class of tiny mechanical devices containing vibrating, hair-thin structures that could be used to filter electronic signals in cell phones and for other more exotic applications. The work is done inside a vacuum chamber sitting on top of a special vibration-absorbing platform critical to making the precise measurements. A tiny prototype, roughly comparable in size to a grain of sand, is pictured on the monitor at right. The device is an example of a microelectromechanical system, or a MEMS, which contains tiny moving parts.
Credit: Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Researchers are developing a new class of tiny mechanical devices containing vibrating, hair-thin structures that could be used to filter electronic signals in cell phones and for other more exotic applications.

Because the devices, called resonators, vibrate in specific patterns, they are able to cancel out signals having certain frequencies and allow others to pass. The result is a new type of "band-pass" filter, a component commonly used in electronics to permit some signals to pass through a cell phone's circuitry while blocking others, said Jeffrey Rhoads, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

Such filters are critical for cell phones and other portable electronics because they allow devices to process signals with minimal interference and maximum transmission efficiency. The new technology represents a potential way to further miniaturize band-pass filters while improving their performance and reducing power use, Rhoads said.

The device is an example of a microelectromechanical system, or a MEMS, which contain tiny moving parts. Incoming signals generate voltage that produces an electrostatic force, causing the MEMS filters to vibrate.

Researchers have proposed linking tiny beams in straight chains, but Rhoads has pursued a different approach, arranging the structures in rings and other shapes, or "non-traditional coupling arrangements." One prototype, which resembles spokes attached to a wheel's hub, is about 160 microns in diameter, or comparable in size to a grain of sand.

Findings are detailed in a research paper to be presented on Sept. 2 during a meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Third International Conference on Micro and Nano Systems. The conference runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in San Diego. The paper was written by Rhoads and mechanical engineering graduate student Venkata Bharadwaj Chivukula.

In addition to their use as future cell phone filters, such resonators also could be used for advanced chemical and biological sensors in medical and homeland-defense applications and possibly for a new type of "mechanical memory element" that harnesses vibration patterns to store information.

"The potential computer-memory application is the most long term and challenging," Rhoads said. "We are talking about the possibility of creating complex behaviors out of relatively simple substructures, similar to how in cellular biology you can have a relatively complex behavior by combining hundreds or thousands of simple cells."

The band-pass filter design promises higher performance than previous MEMS technology because it more sharply defines which frequencies can pass and which are rejected. The new design also might be more robust than the traditional linear arrangement, meaning devices could contain manufacturing flaws and still perform well.

The devices are made of silicon and are manufactured using a "silicon-on-insulator" procedure commonly used in the electronics industry to make computer chips and electronic circuits. The small, vibrating mechanical structures contain beams about 10 microns in diameter, which is roughly one-tenth the width of a human hair. The beams can be connected mechanically, like tiny springs, or they can be linked using electric fields and magnetic attractions.

"We are in the process of making a second prototype," said Rhoads, who has used simulations and also conducted experiments with the devices to demonstrate that the concept works.

The devices are being fabricated at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park through a collaboration with Dimitrios Peroulis, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The research is based at a new Dynamic Analysis of Micro/Nanosystems Laboratory at Birck. The lab, managed by Rhoads and mechanical engineering professor Arvind Raman, is equipped with an instrument called a scanning laser Doppler vibrometer, which uses a laser to measure the minute movement of the tiniest structures. The system is housed inside a vacuum chamber sitting on top of a special vibration-absorbing platform critical to making the precise measurements.

Other faculty members and graduate students also use the specialized facility.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation through an NSF Faculty Early Career Development grant, awarded to outstanding young researchers. So far four Purdue researchers have received the grants this year. The research includes educational components using Purdue's nanoHUB - the Web portal of the Network for Computational Nanotechnology, also NSF-funded and based at Purdue - as well as Purdue's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program.

Rhoads will develop and deploy on the nanoHUB a software tool to simulate the behavior of the resonators, a new K-12 education curriculum on emerging microelectromechanical and nanoelectromechanical systems, and college-level course materials and lectures associated with a new course on the systems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Tiny 'MEMS' Devices To Filter, Amplify Electronic Signals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810162113.htm>.
Purdue University. (2009, August 31). Tiny 'MEMS' Devices To Filter, Amplify Electronic Signals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810162113.htm
Purdue University. "Tiny 'MEMS' Devices To Filter, Amplify Electronic Signals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810162113.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins