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NC University Develops Faster Smart Sensors for Security and Military Applications

A new research project on smart sensors conducted by the North Carolina State University aims to make them function under extreme situations, akin to the ones encountered in Afghanistan or any other region.

The National Science Foundation has funded the research. The NC State’s biomedical engineering professor Dr. Roger Narayan, along with Tsung Han Yang, H. Zhou, A. Gupta, and Ravi Aggarwal, PhD students of NC State, co-authored the research paper. The paper was presented during the San Francisco-based 2011 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting on April 7, 2010. Titled ‘Mechanism of Semiconductor Metal Transition of Vanadium Oxide Thin Films,’ the paper was awarded the first prize for the MRS Symposium N: Functional Oxide Nanostructures and Heterostructures.

For security and military scenarios, when even a fractional second can result in life or death the smart sensors with faster response times are invaluable.

The NC State’s John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Dr. Jay Narayan, who also co-authored the research, revealed that the researchers integrated the vanadium oxide sensor material with a chip of silicon. He elaborated that sensors are usually hardwired on to a computer, while in this case the sensor is a constituent of the computer chip. He added that this integration has resulted in the development of a smart sensor capable of sensing, manipulating, and responding to information. For instance, these sensors help to develop infrared (IR) sensors that are capable of faster response during security or military operations.

The manner in which the silicon chips and vanadium oxide sensors work is described in the new findings by the NC State researchers’ team. Researchers are now able to enhance the dependability of smart sensors by understanding the way these sensors work. They will also be able to cater for the variable conditions to which the sensors will be subjected to like various pressures and temperatures likely to be encountered in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Jay Narayan discovered the ‘domain matching epitaxy,’ which resulted in the development of smart sensors. It is possible to develop defect-free, single crystals for different materials by using this model. This development enables the amplification of the electronic signals transmitted between these materials.

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