Fabrication Technologies

Rapid On-site Detection of Fecal Indicating Bacteria for Coastal Water Quality Monitoring

Detection of fecal indicating bacteria plays an important role in water quality monitoring to ensure safe human water contact and/or drinking.  Specifically, epidemiological studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have shown strong correlations between illnesses and bacteria concentrations of Enterococci and E.

Single-Input Control of Large Microrobot Swarms using Serial Addressing for Microassembly and Biomedical Applications

This collaborative research project will create a practical control scheme for large swarms of microrobots. These robots are typically no more than a few millimeters in length, and rely on an external power source and control signal. Currently, it is possible to steer the swarm as a whole to a single destination (or perhaps, to a desired average location). However, realizing the full potential benefits of microrobot swarms will require the ability to simultaneously send independent commands, either to individual robots or to small subgroups.

Magnetic Thick Films for Integrated Microwave Devices

This project is under DARPA's Magnetic Miniaturized and Monolithically Integrated Components (M3IC) program in the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office.

The objective of this effort is to develop thick-film magnetic materials that can be fabricated on semiconductor integrated circuits to enable highly miniaturized microwave components such as circulators and isolators operating in the 10 to 110 GHz frequency regime. These nonlinear, non-reciprocal components are critical for next generation radios, radar, and sensing systems for defense, consumer, automotive, and healthcare applications.

Zero-Power Magnetic Field Sensors Using Magnetoelectric Nanowires

We seek to develop a platform that allows magnetic field sensing using a small footprint, in the absence of an external power supply. Our approach uses magnetoelectric nanofibers to create a zero-power magnetic field sensor. The challenge is to develop methods to assemble these materials into devices that leverage their unique anisotropic properties.

The figure of merit for magnetoelectric materials is the magnetoelectric coefficient, a measure of the amount of voltage generated with respect to the magnitude of the applied magnetic field. Bulk magnetoelectrics and thin films are limited by defects and substrate clamping respectively.  To overcome the limitations of thin-film based composite magnetoelectrics we have developed magnetoelectric bilayer structures on a single nanofiber, i.e., 1D magnetoelectrics. These materials are theoretically predicted to have magnetoelectric coupling coefficients that are orders of magnitude greater than their thin film counterparts. 

Magnetoelectric materials can be employed in a wide variety of applications including magnetic field sensors and tunable resonance energy harvesters.  By optimizing for material system and architecture, drastic increases in magnitude of voltage generated with decreased size can be achieved. This could allow for more sensitive magnetic field sensors appropriate for a wider array of applications and decreased size to allow for easier integration into ICs.

Levitated Microfactories for High-speed Adaptive Microassembly

The overall goal of UF’s effort on this DARPA Atoms to Products program (under sub-contract to SRI International) is to manufacture the micro-robots for demonstration of a massively parallel (1,000+) micro-robot factory. Each micro-robot comprises at least one magnetic base and one end effector. The magnetic base is configured with a pattern of north and south poles. A starting design is a 3 mm x 3 mm x 0.4 mm thick base that is arranged into a 9-pole checkerboard pattern. The simplest end effector is a simple mechanical rod attached to the top of the magnetic case.

The micro-robot platforms (magnetic bases and end effectors) will be mass manufactured using a combination of precision manufacturing and microfabrication techniques. Rather than assembling discrete magnets into specific pole patterns, selective magnetization techniques will be used to “imprint” the desired pole pattern into mechanically contiguous layers. These methods will eliminate the need for assembly, and also facilitate the massive batch manufacture of many magnetic bases in parallel. Concurrently, end effectors will be microfabricated using suitable microfabrication technologies. The bases and end effectors will be combined together via monolithic co-fabrication or via wafer-scale batch-assembly processes.  

Large-area Manufacturing of Integrated Devices with Nanocomposite Magnetic Cores

As predicted by Moore's "law", the past few decades have seen massive reductions in the size of integrated circuits, enabling the portable, handheld devices now in everyday use. However, the components that power these devices have not experienced a similar size reduction. For example, the power adapter of a laptop computer is only modestly smaller than that two decades ago, and the printed circuit board inside a smart phone must dedicate between 20% and 40% of the board area for power conversion and management. To date, efforts towards miniaturization have been limited by both materials and manufacturing challenges. To address this gap, this research will study nanomanufacturing processes to facilitate the scalable synthesis of high quality magnetic nanoparticles and nanocomposite core materials and the fabrication of compact power inductors and transformers through assembly of these nanomaterials in a manner that is compatible with current manufacturing processes, such as silicon wafer or printed circuit board fabrication. This compatibility will enable fully integrated and compact system-on-chip or system-in-package power solutions. This research will be accomplished by fostering collaboration among disciplines including materials science, chemical engineering and electrical engineering. It will foster diversity in the profession by involving high school and undergraduate students in research activities and by broadening participation through the inclusion and engagement of women and underrepresented groups.

High Temperature Optical Sapphire Pressure Sensors for Harsh Environments

The primary objective of this research is to develop a high-bandwidth pressure sensor to provide benchmark, time-resolved, dynamic pressure data in high-temperature combustion environments. Specifically, these sensors will be designed to be embedded within a system and provide remote interrogation which will enable pressure to be measured in situ and on line under extreme conditions. Ultimately, this sensing technology will lead to better understanding and increased efficiency of complex power generation systems. In order to achieve this objective, research in sapphire laser micromachining and thermocompression bonding via spark plasma sintering technology will be conducted to enable fabrication of a fiber optic lever pressure sensor that uses a sapphire optical fiber for transduction of the pressure-induced diaphragm deflection. The proposed project will result in instrumentation-grade, high-temperature sensors that enable flush mounted measurements without sensor cooling. Furthermore, the use of optical techniques enables “passive” device operation, with electronics located remotely from the sensor. After fabrication and packaging, the pressure sensor will be rigorously characterized in acoustic plane wave tubes under both ambient and high-temperature conditions to determine its performance as a quantitative measurement device.

A Flush-Mount Piezoelectric MEMS Microphone for Aeroacoustic Flight Testing Applications

In their effort to locate, understand and mitigate the impact of noise sources on an aircraft, aeroacousticiansare in need of a high performance, low cost microphone to combat the increasing noise restrictions on commercial aircraft. Existing commercial sensors, even with their relatively high cost, in some cases constrain the quality and type of measurement that may be achieved. One such constraint is that the physical size and characteristics of the sensors limit the optimal locations in which the sensors may be placed. Previous generations of MEMS aeroacoustic microphones have failed to address the need for a sensor that can be packaged and installed with a smooth front surface to be used for boundary layer measurements in a fuselage array at cruise conditions. Additionally, these microphones must meet demanding requirements, including the sensing of high sound pressure levels (>160 dB) with low distortion (<3%) and high sensitivity stability (with respect to moisture and freezing) over temperatures from -60°F to 150°F. This work addresses the limitations of existing MEMS piezoelectric microphones used in aeroacoustic applications by incorporating through-silicon vias(TSVs) into the fabrication to eliminate the use of wirebondsthat affect the flow field and create an overall flush-mount microphone package.