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The University of Southampton
Engineering

Research project: Stiction-Free and Tuneable Nano-Electro-Mechanical Systems Incorporating Liquid Crystals

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Micro/Nano-electromechanical system (MEMS/NEMS) is a pervasive technology underpinning a range of modern applications including smart phones, medical devices & implants, high resolution displays, high sensitivity sensors and actuators. However, nanoscopic mechanical motion underpinning the functionality of such systems is often affected by a number of parasitic effects and the chief among them is stiction - unintentional adhesion of moving parts leading to a catastrophic failure of the devices. Correspondingly, the ability to engage and control reliably mechanical movements in NEMS is the main challenge of the technology.

This project aims to develop new generation of MEMS/NEMS - stiction-free hybrid nano-electro-mechanical systems, which will feature dynamically adjustable behaviour and field-programmable functions. Our novel approach exploits elastic distortions in liquid crystals coupled to nanoscopic mechanical motion in operating MEMS/NEMS. This is an EPSRC (EP/R024421/1) funded project, encompassing breakthrough research across MEMS/NEMS, liquid crystals, and meta-materials. This project is built upon multidisciplinary EPS expertise from ORC, ECS and Engineering schools within Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences, and supported by the leading cleanroom facilities at the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics.

 

ACS Nano 2016, 10, 11519−11524
ACS Nano 2016, 10, 11519−11524
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