Utah engineering students have a unique opportunity to work in both the design and the manufacturing spaces for MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems), sometimes beginning early on in their academic program. The Utah nanofab hosts about ten courses that use the available thin film deposition and patterning tools, along with the sophisticated analytical tools of the Surface Analysis and nano Imaging lab.
From the design side, our students find that pure MEMS design opens a world of creative engineering without having to deal with difficult and expensive manufacturing issues. In one of our courses, Heterogeneous Microsystems Technologies, highly complex chips are fabricated for our students at no charge due to our participation in the Sandia National Labs University Alliance design competition, using the most advanced, billion-dollar surface micromachining process in the world.
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An example of this is Kinetic Micro SculptureTM, spontaneous movement of micro-meter scale art forms when imaged in a scanning electron microscope. This was envisioned by Mechanical Engineering faculty member Ian Harvey and prototyped and patented with a group of undergraduates; then brought to fruition by Harvey, Sandia Superuser Brian Baker, Prof. Paul Stout (Art), and undergraduate students Alex Hogan, Kurtis Ford, Kathryn Ecsedy, and Andrew Paulsen in a classroom setting. With the classroom success came extended funding through a grant from the University of Utah Center for Interdisciplinary Arts and Technology, and fabrication services were again provided through the generous support of Sandia National Laboratories, MEMS Technologies Department and the University Alliance competition.
Freshman student Kathryn Ecsedy (MechE) presented work from the 2009 Kinetic Micro Sculpture team in a Berlin conference on Knowledge, Technology and Society.
View the video Kathryn showed in Berlin.
Third-year participant Alex Hogan (Junior, ECE) and second-year participant Kurtis Ford (senior, MechE) were awarded summer internships at Sandia National Labs, acknowledging their passionate efforts during multiple years of intense competition.
On the 2010 team, winners of the Sandia competition education division, students Kurtis, Alex, Austin Welborn (M.S./B.S. student, MechE), Ted Kempe (Senior, MechE), Keng-Min Lin (M.S. student, MechE), Charles Fisher (MechE), Brian Baker, and advisor Ian Harvey submitted designs that will occupy space on two silicon chips, each approximately 2mm x 6mm. They presented their work at an invited seminar and awards program on May 18, 2010 at Sandia National Laboratory, in Albuquerque, NM.
Their creative efforts have been highlighted in Popular Science.
Designs included Austin's microscale rendering of DaVinci's Vetruvian man, mechanical lion, and mechanical wings; Kurtis' unique microscale effort to demonstrate compliance in MEMS elastic materials by flipping a tiny loop of polycrystalline silicon inside-out, like a rubber band (powered by Charles Fisher's gear reduction system); Alex', Kurtis' and Ian's biomimetic adaptive lens actuator; Ted Kempe's microscale tribute to the Hoberman arch in compliant beams; Keng-Min Lin's microscale levitation micro-railway; Austin & Ian's microscale self-erecting monolith tribute to "2010 - A Space Odyssey", and Brian Baker's microscale hair salon that grips a single hair, cuts it, dries it, teases it, and tips a mirror so the salon customer can see the micro-fashionable result.
Apple-style-span" style="font-family: Helvetica;">All these devices play into an overall strategy to demonstrate and teach specific physical principles and consequences of dimensional downscaling to the micrometer level. These are all intended for use as a set of combined outreach demonstrators on-chip, for tour groups and interactions with grade K-12 students to stimulate interest in the visual 'coolness' of both constructing and seeing machines at the micrometer scaleand below to nanotechnology.
See more videos of Kinetic Micro Sculpture:
Snowbird Resort Magazine Ad
The College of Engineering will be highlighting the work of Assistant Professor Mike Scarpulla in Materials Science & Engineering in a recruiting advertisement to be featured in a Snowbird resort magazine. You can view the advertisement here.