MEMS at MIT MEMS@MIT
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February 2007 Newsletter

Welcome to the Inaugural Newsletter of MEMS@MIT

This publication is the first issue of a quarterly update of events and research activities undertaken by the MEMS@MIT Center.

This newsletter is intended to support the Center’s key objectives of fostering expertise, providing education, facilitating networking, and expanding teaming opportunities on new research efforts for the MIT MEMS/NEMS community and the Center’s Industrial partners.  In part, these goals will be accomplished by keeping you informed of upcoming Center events, the latest Center faculty research highlights, MEMS/NEMS seminar streaming videos, and other special features.  We will also feature other MEMS/NEMS related events (e.g., seminars, conferences) and reference websites worth visiting.

We hope you find the newsletter informative and relevant.

MEMS@MIT Inaugural Open House – Fall 2006

The inaugural open house for MEMS @ MIT was held Oct. 10-11, 2006 on the MIT campus. This event was the first of what will be a twice-a-year event associated with the newly launched MEMS@MIT industrial consortium. The format of the open house includes a day-long symposium where participants engage in a detailed exploration of a specific topic related to MEMS. The first day ends with a poster session where all the investigators associated with MEMS@MIT present posters on their latest work, spanning the entire activities of the center including BioMEMS, Optical MEMS, Power MEMS, Sensors and Actuators, and MEMS technology. On the second day, the Industrial Advisors Board (IAB) of MEMS@MIT meets in a closed-door session to learn of the newest activities in the Center, to discuss new research initiatives, and to provide guidance to the Center faculty. We also use this meeting to discuss teaming opportunities between member companies and MIT investigators on new research efforts. 

This Fall’s symposium was entitled “Micro/Nano Technology for Portable Power.” The event opened with a comprehensive presentation by Professor Anantha Chandrakasan of MIT, one of the world’s foremost authorities on portable electronics. Professor  Chandrakasan discussed trends in portable electronics for applications ranging from phones, PDAs, computers, and wireless sensor networks. He discussed the anticipated power needs in these systems, as well as emerging designs  that will influence the power demands of portable systems. This keynote presentation was followed by presentations from four MIT investigators who are leading efforts in the use of micro/nano technology for portable power. Dr. Stuart Jacobson discussed the latest results on power generation using microengines. Professor Klavs Jensen discussed the results of MEMS-enabled fuel processors for power generation systems using thermophotovoltaics (TPV) and solid oxide fuel cells. Professor Jeff Lang discussed the use of energy-harvesting schemes for power generation and provided insight into application domains where such approaches may find use. Professor Gang Chen discussed nano-structured thermoelectric materials. Following these presentations, Professor Ely Sachs (faculty at MIT and co-founder of Evergreen Solar) discussed prospects for solar energy solutions to portable power needs. These campus research talks were followed by presentations by two local start-ups that are working in the portable power space. Sam Schaevitz of Lilliputian Systems discussed their work on solid oxide fuel cells for portable re-chargers. Ric Fulop of A123 Systems introduced their use of nanotechnology to introduce revolutionary new batteries for portable applications such as cordless power tools. The symposium ended with a panel discussion. The panelists included Jeff Andrews of Atlas Ventures and Dave Prend of Rockport Ventures, both of whom have invested in companies in the portable power sector. They described the opportunities that they have seen and the investment criteria in this space. The slides for all presentations given at the symposium can be found on the members-only section of the MEMS@MIT website.

The poster session on Tuesday evening included 36 posters on a wide range of topics. The poster titles and authors are listed on the members-only section of the Center web site, and a copy of each poster can be downloaded from the site as well.

The IAB meeting was held the following morning. In this meeting, our industrial members heard about recent research activities from faculty in the Center. Professor Sang Kim described the piezoelectric process capabilities of MIT and presented recent results on the use of this piezoelectric material in novel MEMS devices. Professor Scott Manalis discussed a new NIH-funded program on microsystems for detection of cancer biomarkers. Professor Duane Boning described work his group is conducting in modeling MEMS processes. He specifically discussed new results in the successful modeling of DRIE and the extension of this methodology to hot embossing processes. The last presentation of the morning featured Dr. John Hart, a recent Ph.D. graduate, who described his work on synthesis of carbon nanotubes. The IAB meeting concluded with a detailed discussion of internal center activities and planned new programs. Slides for all of the presentations can be found on the members only section.

MEMS@MIT Unveils New Website

Commensurate with the launch of its industrial consortium, MEMS@MIT has opened up its new website. The public portion of the website includes overview material on the Center, more than 92 abstracts  describing individual MEMS research programs in the Center, and pointers to the individual investigators in the Center. In addition, a password-protected portion of the website was opened for members of the industrial consortium. This portion of the website is available to all employees of member companies. This part of the web site is rich with detailed content provided for the exclusive benefit of the members. This content includes five kinds of resources:

  1. Downloadable files of all presentations given at MEMS@MIT events.
  2. A memo series with publications and theses from MEMS@MIT investigators
  3. The ”IP Report”: A quarterly summary of all the IP generated by MEMS@MIT investigators that is available for licensing
  4. Videos of MIT seminars given by experts in MEMS that can be streamed directly to your PC on a 24/7 basis. (for more info, see the newsletter article on the MNSS seminar series)
  5. In the near future,resumes of students seeking permanent as well as summer employment will also appear.

If your company is currently a member of MEMS@MIT, you may access the website by following the instructions found here. Registration at the website takes less than a minute and provides immediate access to the content.

New Seminar Series Highlights the Latest Innovations in MEMS-Nano-technology

In Spring 2006, The MNSS (Micro/Nano-technology Seminar Series) seminars were launched as an interdepartmental initiative aimed at a broad audience including the MEMS, bioMEMS, electrical, mechanical, and nano communities. Each Fall and Spring series features a small number of renowned speakers from academia, industry, and government. Speakers have included Dr. Yang Zhao, MEMSIC, Inc – “Finally Affordable Accelerometer for New Human-to-Computer Interface:  The Latest Progress in Technology and Consumer Market”; Professor Stephen Chou, Princeton – “Nanostructure Patterning and Applications:  A Path to Discovery, Innovation, and Commercialization”; Dr. John Kitching, NIST – “Chip Scale Atomic Clocks”; and Professor Gang Chen, MIT, “So What does Nanotechnology have to do with Energy?”

One of the highlights of the series is the seminar presented by the Senturia Prize winner in May. The Senturia Prize is awarded to a graduating Ph.D. student conducting research in the MEMS/NEMS field who has made substantial technical contributions to the field and to the research community in MEMS/NEMS at MIT. The first Senturia Prize was awarded to Anastasios John Hart for his work on synthesis of carbon nanotubes.

Nominations are currently being accepted from students and faculty of the MEMS community.

We are pleased to announce the 2007 Spring schedule:

Feb 8 - John Foster \ Innovative Micro-technology
Mar 8 - James Landers \ UVA
Mar 22 - Kim Hamad-Schifferli \ MIT
Apr 26 - Gary Fedder \ CMU
May 10 - Senturia Prize winner presentation

All seminars are held on Thursday at 3pm in the RLE Conference Room, 36-428.

The MNSS is sponsored by the following:

Video archives of past MNSS presentations are available on the members-only section of the MEMS@MIT website. For more information on the MNSS series, please contact the MNSS Planning Committee:  Professor Joel Voldman (RLE) voldmanatmitdotedu, Professor Carol Livermore (Mech E) livermoratmitdotedu or Anne Wasserman (MEMS@MIT) annewatmitdotedu or go to www.rle.mit.edu/mnss/.

Up-coming Events

The Spring Open House for MEMS@MIT has been set for April 17-18, 2007 and will be held at the MIT campus. Information on the Open House will be continuously updated at the following location: http://mtlweb.mit.edu/mems/news.html. This open house is for members of the MIT community as well as members of the industrial consortium. We invite companies that wish to seriously consider joining the center to contact the Center Administrative Director, Anne Wasserman (annewatmitdotedu), to discuss your possible participation in this important event as a means to make an informed decision regarding whether Center membership makes sense for your company. This Spring’s open house will include a Symposium on “BioMEMS” as well as briefings on several new research programs and a discussion of opportunities for research partnering that we see in the near term.

New Research Program: A Focus Center on Non-Lithographic Technologies for MEMS/NEMS Fabrication

MIT is pleased to announce that it has recently been awarded a major grant from DARPA under their MEMS/NEMS Fundamentals program. The new Focus Center on Non-lithographic Technologies for MEMS/NEMS Fabrication is a joint program involving researchers from MIT, Hewlett-Packard, and Oregon State University. The program has a $1.75M/year budget for the first three years, with an option to extend for an additional three years. Details on this exciting new program will be discussed at the Spring Open House in April during the IAB meeting. As a preview, members can download an overview presentation of the Center. We view this new program as a key part of a growing initiative in MEMS manufacturing.

Look for our next newsletter in Spring 2007.