02 July 2008
Smallest sensor yet?
A European research team is developing what it believes will be the world’s smallest sensor. The device is likely to have applications in biosensing and environmental monitoring.
The three year FP7 funded project – called NEMSIC (Nano electromechanical system integrated circuits) – is headed by Professor Adrian Ionescu of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and brings together Southampton University, Delft University of Technology, Stitching IMEC Nederland, CEA–LETI, SCIPROM, IMEC, Honeywell Romania and the Université de Genève.
As well as being the smallest sensor on the market to date, it will have extreme sensitivity and very low power consumption. It will achieve this by integrating single electron transistors and nano electromechanical (NEM) systems on a common silicon platform. “This is the first time that anyone has combined these two nanotechnologies to develop a smart sensor,” said Professor Mizuta of Southampton University’s School of Engineering and Science. “The traditional cmos approach has many limitations, so we needed to find a new approach.
“The single electron transistor, combined with the NEM device technology, reduces power consumption at both on and off states of the sensor,” he added.
Prof Mizuta and his team will develop the single electron transistor and a suspended silicon nanobridge, which will work as an extremely sensitive detector for biological and chemical molecules.
Fabrication will be enabled by a new electron beam lithography machine in ECS’ Mountbatten building.
University of Southampton
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