Building Tiny Machines
Tiny machines are revolutionizing the way we live. The influence of microelectronics on our society, via the ubiquitous personal computer and the pervasive world-wide Web, is obvious. Less obvious is the multitude of micromachined devices used in sensing (e.g., micromachined accelerometers used to trigger air-bag deployment in automobiles), in entertainment (e.g., micro-mirror displays in televisions and movie-theatres), in communications, and in information storage.
The list of micromachines is rapidly expanding to include portable power generation (exemplified by microengines and micro fuel cells) and medical devices. In the case of the latter, the development of implantable biosensors and drug delivery devices is leading to unprecedented improvements in patient quality of care and, indeed, quality of life.
The development of such high-performance, reliable, and manufacturable microdevices demands significant innovations in materials technologies. The primary challenges fall in two broad categories. The first is the development of new processing techniques and the second concerns the effects of size on the properties of materials. Canada Research Chair Srikar Vengallatore is addressing these challenges in a multidisciplinary framework using a combination of experimental, analytical, and computational techniques.
Dr. Vengallatore is developing processing structure-shape-property correlations for microformed and nanoformed biocompatible alloys. He is also looking into the integration of functional nanomaterials on micromachined silicon platforms. In addition, he is analyzing the mechanisms of energy dissipation in small-volume structures.