Microsystems & Nanoengineering
ISSN / EISSN : 2096-1030 / 2055-7434
Current Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC (10.1038)Former Publisher:
Total articles ≅ 389
Latest articles in this journal
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-13; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00270-1
Hydrodynamic cavitation is one of the major phase change phenomena and occurs with a sudden decrease in the local static pressure within a fluid. With the emergence of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), high-speed microfluidic devices have attracted considerable attention and been implemented in many fields, including cavitation applications. In this study, a new generation of ‘cavitation-on-a-chip’ devices with eight parallel structured microchannels is proposed. This new device is designed with the motivation of decreasing the upstream pressure (input energy) required for facile hydrodynamic cavitation inception. Water and a poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) microbubble (MB) suspension are used as the working fluids. The results show that the cavitation inception upstream pressure can be reduced with the proposed device in comparison with previous studies with a single flow restrictive element. Furthermore, using PVA MBs further results in a reduction in the upstream pressure required for cavitation inception. In this new device, different cavitating flow patterns with various intensities can be observed at a constant cavitation number and fixed upstream pressure within the same device. Moreover, cavitating flows intensify faster in the proposed device for both water and the water–PVA MB suspension in comparison to previous studies. Due to these features, this next-generation ‘cavitation-on-a-chip’ device has a high potential for implementation in applications involving microfluidic/organ-on-a-chip devices, such as integrated drug release and tissue engineering.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-14; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00271-0
Accurate temperature measurements can efficiently solve numerous critical problems and provide key information. Herein, a flexible micro-three-dimensional sensor, with a combination of platinum and indium oxide to form thermocouples, is designed and fabricated by a microfabrication process to achieve in situ real-time temperature measurements. The stability and reliability of the sensor are greatly improved by optimizing the process parameters, structural design, and preparation methods. A novel micro-three-dimensional structure with better malleability is designed, which also takes advantage of the fast response of a two-dimensional thin film. The as-obtained flexible temperature sensor with excellent stability and reliability is expected to greatly contribute to the development of essential components in various emerging research fields, including bio-robot and healthcare systems. The model of the application sensor in a mask is further proposed and designed to realize the collection of health information, reducing the number of deaths caused by the lack of timely detection and treatment of patients.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00268-9
This article presents a field-emission electron gun intended for use in a MEMS (microelectromechanical system) electron microscope. Its fabrication process follows the technology of a miniature device under development built from silicon electrodes and glass spacers. The electron gun contains a silicon cathode with a single very sharp protrusion and a bundle of disordered CNTs deposited on its end (called a sharp silicon/CNT cathode). It was tested in diode and triode configurations. For the diode configuration, a low threshold voltage <1000 V and a high emission current that reached 90 µA were obtained. After 30 min of operation at 900 V, the emission current decreased to 1.6 µA and was stable for at least 40 min, with RMS fluctuation in the anode current lower than 10%. The electron beam spot of the source was observed on the phosphor screen. In the diode configuration, the spot size was the same as the emission area (~10 µm), which is a satisfactory result. In the triode configuration, an extraction electrode (gate) control function was reported. The gate limited the emission current and elongated the lifetime of the gun when the current limit was set. Moreover, the electron beam current fluctuations at the anode could be reduced to ~1% by using a feedback loop circuit that controls the gate voltage, regulating the anode current. The developed sharp silicon/CNT cathodes were used to test the MEMS electron source demonstrator, a key component of the MEMS electron microscope, operating under atmospheric pressure conditions. Cathodoluminescence of the phosphor layer (ZnS:Ag) deposited on the thin silicon nitride membrane (anode) was observed.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-13; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00265-y
Electrostatic micromechanical actuators have numerous applications in science and technology. In many applications, they are operated in a narrow frequency range close to resonance and at a drive voltage of low variation. Recently, new applications, such as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microspeakers (µSpeakers), have emerged that require operation over a wide frequency and dynamic range. Simulating the dynamic performance under such circumstances is still highly cumbersome. State-of-the-art finite element analysis struggles with pull-in instability and does not deliver the necessary information about unstable equilibrium states accordingly. Convincing lumped-parameter models amenable to direct physical interpretation are missing. This inhibits the indispensable in-depth analysis of the dynamic stability of such systems. In this paper, we take a major step towards mending the situation. By combining the finite element method (FEM) with an arc-length solver, we obtain the full bifurcation diagram for electrostatic actuators based on prismatic Euler-Bernoulli beams. A subsequent modal analysis then shows that within very narrow error margins, it is exclusively the lowest Euler-Bernoulli eigenmode that dominates the beam physics over the entire relevant drive voltage range. An experiment directly recording the deflection profile of a MEMS microbeam is performed and confirms the numerical findings with astonishing precision. This enables modeling the system using a single spatial degree of freedom.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-14; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00263-0
The combination of electrophysiology and optogenetics enables the exploration of how the brain operates down to a single neuron and its network activity. Neural probes are in vivo invasive devices that integrate sensors and stimulation sites to record and manipulate neuronal activity with high spatiotemporal resolution. State-of-the-art probes are limited by tradeoffs involving their lateral dimension, number of sensors, and ability to access independent stimulation sites. Here, we realize a highly scalable probe that features three-dimensional integration of small-footprint arrays of sensors and nanophotonic circuits to scale the density of sensors per cross-section by one order of magnitude with respect to state-of-the-art devices. For the first time, we overcome the spatial limit of the nanophotonic circuit by coupling only one waveguide to numerous optical ring resonators as passive nanophotonic switches. With this strategy, we achieve accurate on-demand light localization while avoiding spatially demanding bundles of waveguides and demonstrate the feasibility with a proof-of-concept device and its scalability towards high-resolution and low-damage neural optoelectrodes.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-12; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00266-x
As demand accelerates for multifunctional devices with a small footprint and minimal power consumption, 2.5D and 3D advanced packaging architectures have emerged as an essential solution that use through-substrate vias (TSVs) as vertical interconnects. Vertical stacking enables chip packages with increased functionality, enhanced design versatility, minimal power loss, reduced footprint and high bandwidth. Unlocking the potential of photolithography for vertical interconnect access (VIA) fabrication requires fast and accurate predictive modeling of diffraction effects and resist film photochemistry. This procedure is especially challenging for broad-spectrum exposure systems that use, for example, Hg bulbs with g-, h-, and i-line UV radiation. In this paper, we present new methods and equations for VIA latent image determination in photolithography that are suitable for broad-spectrum exposure and negate the need for complex and time-consuming in situ metrology. Our technique is accurate, converges quickly on the average modern PC and could be readily integrated into photolithography simulation software. We derive a polychromatic light attenuation equation from the Beer-Lambert law, which can be used in a critical exposure dose model to determine the photochemical reaction state. We integrate this equation with an exact scalar diffraction formula to produce a succinct equation comprising a complete coupling between light propagation phenomena and photochemical behavior. We then perform a comparative study between 2D/3D photoresist latent image simulation geometries and directly corresponding experimental data, which demonstrates a highly positive correlation. We anticipate that this technique will be a valuable asset to photolithography, micro- and nano-optical systems and advanced packaging/system integration with applications in technology domains ranging from space to automotive to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-12; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00267-w
Multicellular spheroids have served as a promising preclinical model for drug efficacy testing and disease modeling. Many microfluidic technologies, including those based on water–oil–water double emulsions, have been introduced for the production of spheroids. However, sustained culture and the in situ characterization of the generated spheroids are currently unavailable for the double emulsion-based spheroid model. This study presents a streamlined workflow, termed the double emulsion-pretreated microwell culture (DEPMiC), incorporating the features of (1) effective initiation of uniform-sized multicellular spheroids by the pretreatment of double emulsions produced by microfluidics without the requirement of biomaterial scaffolds; (2) sustained maintenance and culture of the produced spheroids with facile removal of the oil confinement; and (3) in situ characterization of individual spheroids localized in microwells by a built-in analytical station. Characterized by microscopic observations and Raman spectroscopy, the DEPMiC cultivated spheroids accumulated elevated lipid ordering on the apical membrane, similar to that observed in their Matrigel counterparts. Made possible by the proposed technological advancement, this study subsequently examined the drug responses of these in vitro-generated multicellular spheroids. The developed DEPMiC platform is expected to generate health benefits in personalized cancer treatment by offering a pre-animal tool to dissect heterogeneity from individual tumor spheroids.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-10; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00262-1
Analysis of growth and death kinetics at single-cell resolution is a key step in understanding the complexity of the nonreplicating growth phenotype of the bacterial pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Here, we developed a single-cell-resolution microfluidic mycobacterial culture device that allows time-lapse microscopy-based long-term phenotypic visualization of the live replication dynamics of mycobacteria. This technology was successfully applied to monitor the real-time growth dynamics of the fast-growing model strain Mycobacterium smegmatis (M. smegmatis) while subjected to drug treatment regimens during continuous culture for 48 h inside the microfluidic device. A clear morphological change leading to significant swelling at the poles of the bacterial membrane was observed during drug treatment. In addition, a small subpopulation of cells surviving treatment by frontline antibiotics was observed to recover and achieve robust replicative growth once regular culture media was provided, suggesting the possibility of identifying and isolating nonreplicative mycobacteria. This device is a simple, easy-to-use, and low-cost solution for studying the single-cell phenotype and growth dynamics of mycobacteria, especially during drug treatment.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-12; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00264-z
The heat conduction and infrared absorption properties of the dielectric film have a great influence on the thermopile performance. Thinning the dielectric film, reducing its contact area with the silicon substrate, or adding high-absorptivity nanomaterials has been proven to be effective in improving thermopiles. However, these methods may result in a decrease in the structural mechanical strength and increases in the fabrication complexity and cost. In this work, a new performance-enhancement strategy for thermopiles by simultaneously controlling the heat conduction and infrared absorption with a TExtured DIelectric (TEDI) film is developed and presented. The TEDI film is formed in situ by a simple hard-molding process that is compatible with the fabrication of traditional thermopiles. Compared to the control FLat DIelectric (FLDI) film, the intrinsic thermal conductance of the TEDI film can be reduced by ~18–30%, while the infrared absorption can be increased by ~7–13%. Correspondingly, the responsivity and detectivity of the fabricated TEDI film-based thermopile can be significantly enhanced by ~38–64%. An optimized TEDI film-based thermopile has achieved a responsivity of 156.89 V·W−1 and a detectivity of 2.16 × 108 cm·Hz1/2·W−1, while the response time constant can remain <12 ms. These results exhibit the great potential of using this strategy to develop high-performance thermopiles and enhance other sensors with heat transfer and/or infrared absorption mechanisms.
Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Volume 7, pp 1-25; doi:10.1038/s41378-021-00261-2
With the rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the emergence of 5G, traditional silicon-based electronics no longer fully meet market demands such as nonplanar application scenarios due to mechanical mismatch. This provides unprecedented opportunities for flexible electronics that bypass the physical rigidity through the introduction of flexible materials. In recent decades, biological materials with outstanding biocompatibility and biodegradability, which are considered some of the most promising candidates for next-generation flexible electronics, have received increasing attention, e.g., silk fibroin, cellulose, pectin, chitosan, and melanin. Among them, silk fibroin presents greater superiorities in biocompatibility and biodegradability, and moreover, it also possesses a variety of attractive properties, such as adjustable water solubility, remarkable optical transmittance, high mechanical robustness, light weight, and ease of processing, which are partially or even completely lacking in other biological materials. Therefore, silk fibroin has been widely used as fundamental components for the construction of biocompatible flexible electronics, particularly for wearable and implantable devices. Furthermore, in recent years, more attention has been paid to the investigation of the functional characteristics of silk fibroin, such as the dielectric properties, piezoelectric properties, strong ability to lose electrons, and sensitivity to environmental variables. Here, this paper not only reviews the preparation technologies for various forms of silk fibroin and the recent progress in the use of silk fibroin as a fundamental material but also focuses on the recent advanced works in which silk fibroin serves as functional components. Additionally, the challenges and future development of silk fibroin-based flexible electronics are summarized.