Boston – April 3, 2008 – Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approaches are applied in most every area of sci­en­tific study, including the field of nan­otech­nology. Sci­en­tists in the field of nan­otech­nology work with matter ranging from the atomic level to micron scale. At these scales, how­ever, matter behaves in a dif­ferent manner than in our macro world. Hence, under­standing its basic prin­ci­ples and behavior is a pri­ority for the cre­ation of new reli­able tech­nolo­gies and devices. Northeastern’s Center for High-​​rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing (CHN), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts – Lowell and Uni­ver­sity of New Hamp­shire, is a world leader in the cre­ation of processes such as nan­otem­plates that accel­erate the man­u­fac­turing methods for a variety of com­mer­cial products.

One of the key issues in this process is reli­a­bility, and Juan Aceros, a grad­uate stu­dent at North­eastern University’s Col­lege of Engi­neering, is building micro-​​devices called Micro­Elec­tri­calMe­chan­ical sys­tems (MEMS) that test the prop­er­ties of nanoele­ments. MEMS inte­grate mechan­ical and elec­trical ele­ments into one micro-​​system that tests the reli­a­bility of thin films, nan­otubes, nanofibers or nanowires, which would not be testable using macro-​​sized systems.

Aceros has looked at the mechan­ical and thermal behavior of nanoele­ments to iden­tify the mate­rials that will work best and ensure the reli­a­bility of nan­ode­vices. The degra­da­tion of metallic thin films and nanowires under var­ious envi­ron­ments and tem­per­a­ture cycles has yielded impor­tant infor­ma­tion on the failure behavior and lim­i­ta­tions that these mate­rials could have on new devices. His future research includes using a MEMS res­onator device to detect the level at which nanoele­ments become unre­li­able due to mechan­ical cycling and using MEMs uni­axial ten­sile testers to char­ac­terize the mechan­ical prop­er­ties of new bio­com­pat­ible polymers.

Orig­i­nally from Colombia, Aceros has a Mas­ters degree in mechan­ical engi­neering from North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and is cur­rently working on his Ph.D. in elec­trical engi­neering, which he hopes to com­plete this summer. In addi­tion to his research, Aceros teaches an under­grad­uate level course in the Elec­trical and Com­puter Engi­neering Depart­ment. This com­ple­ments Aceros highly inter­dis­ci­pli­nary aca­d­emic back­ground in hopes of pur­suing a career in higher education.

Nan­otech­nology has the poten­tial to have a sig­nif­i­cant effect on our world in the not-​​so-​​distant future. Because there is such a demand to make things smaller – and more envi­ron­men­tally friendly – nan­otech­nology will con­tinue to be an impor­tant field of study. At North­eastern, the CHN is working with industry part­ners to man­u­fac­ture a memory chip and a biosensor that will detect anti­body mol­e­cules early in the devel­op­ment of cancer.

My research is aimed at bridging the gap between the macro and nano worlds to help develop the most effi­cient nan­ode­vices pos­sible,” said Aceros. “The focus on reli­a­bility is piv­otal to the field of nan­otech­nology and will help bring the ben­e­fits of nan­otech­nology to the public.”

(ImageDescrip­tion: Scan­ning Elec­tron Micro­cope (SEM) Image of Nanowire on Hotplate)

For more infor­ma­tion about MEMS research at North­eastern, please con­tact Jenny Eriksen at (617) 373‑2802 or via email at j.​eriksen@​neu.​edu.

About the Center for High-​​rate Nanomanufacturing

The Center for High-​​rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing is focused on devel­oping tools and processes that will enable high-​​rate/​high-​​volume bottom-​​up, pre­cise, par­allel assembly of nanoele­ments (such as carbon nan­otubes, nanopar­ti­cles, etc.) and polymer nanos­truc­tures. The center’s nan­otem­plates are uti­lized to con­duct fast mas­sive directed assembly of nanoscale ele­ments by con­trol­ling the forces required to assemble, detach, and transfer nanoele­ments at high rates and over large areas. The devel­oped nan­otem­plates and tools will accel­erate the cre­ation of highly antic­i­pated com­mer­cial prod­ucts and will enable the cre­ation of an entirely new gen­er­a­tion of applications.

About North­eastern University

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world.The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divisions.For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.