A research team at the Faculty of Engineering of Tel Aviv University (TAU) is developing a more reliable and sensitive sensor made of carbon nanotubes for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
Electro-mechanical sensors are used in cars where they help to inflate the car’s airbag and rotate the screen of iPhones to match the users’ position. A research team that includes Dr. Slava Krylov and Prof. Yael Hanein and their research student Assaf Ya'akobovitz are further developing this technology at the nanometer scale for more useful applications.
The increase in sensitivity of sensors will imply the development of cars that are able to detect risky turns and collisions before they happen, missiles for defense industry that can hit their targets more accurately, better prosthetic limbs, and videogames that are more exciting.
The MEMS sensing gadget utilizes nano-sized miniature carbon tubes that measure a billionth of a meter in length. The development of such miniature carbon tubes requires a process that uses a furnace and methane gas. In a method formulated by Hanein, the nanotubes themselves arrange on a silicon chip surface for precisely sensing gravity changes and tiny movements.
Krylov and Hanein's team has appended miniaturized tubes of nanometer scale to MEMS devices that are of micrometer scale. Changes in the movement of nano objects result due to little deformities in the nanotube’s crystal structure. Hanein revealed that the device is very small and has a resolution that can detect the motion of small atom-sized objects.
Hanein explained that miniature sensors that were initially developed for the car industry mainly are now used for many applications. Hanein revealed that the research team fabricated a sensor device that includes nanostructures positioned on a large surface and arranged by adopting a method that does not need intervention by humans, thereby making the production of this sensor easy. Hanein explained that these cost-effective and convenient nano-sensing carbon tubes can be used in a wide range of industries.
This technology was showcased in various leading journals such as the Journal of Micromechanics and Micro-engineering. The technology was also presented during a nanotechnology conference in Tirols, Austria, and at a MEMS conference held in Hong Kong.