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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C51940X/1
Title: Novel precision patterning of piezoelectric micro-structures by electrohydrodtnamic atomisaton print-deposition
Principal Investigator: Dorey, Professor RA
Other Investigators:
Edirisinghe, Professor M Jayasinghe, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Industrial and Manufacturing Scie
Organisation: Cranfield University
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 22 November 2004 Ends: 21 May 2006 Value (£): 101,686
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project aims to develop a new printing technique which will allow small scale devices to be fabricated. These small scale devices typically with dimensions in the order of 10's to 100's of micrometers combine electronics with structural features to enable them to move and sense the surroundings. Such micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) are currently made using a variety of film forming techniques in combination with mechanical or chemical material removal. There is, currently, a great drive to make these (and more complex) MEMS using a form of direct printing, which will allow the material removal stage to be eliminated and, also, more complex structures be fabricated. With the current technologies it is only possible to construct relatively simple geometric shapes. There is, however. great interest in being able to construct more complex structures which incorporate features such as tapers, overhangs, curves, spheres. and voids. One technology which offers a potential to achieve such structures is direct printing/writing where objects are built up using layers of building blocks (much as a house is constructed out of bricks). However. as the size of these MEMS systems decreases so does the ability of the direct printing technologies (such as ink jet or screen printing) to achieve such small structures.This project aims to explore the use of electrohydrodynamic atomisation (EHDA) to create much smaller droplet sizes and so much smaller structures. In EHDA a large potential difference is applied between a needle filled with liquid and a needle or ring. This potential difference causes the liquid to be drawn out into a cone. At the very tip of the cone the liquid is atomised into small drops (< 50 micrometers) which are then deposited into the substrate using a specially designed plotting device. By moving the substrate relative to the droplets (or vice versa) it is possible to create pattern. As successive patterns are built up the MEMS structure is revealed. Intricate shapes can be produced by changing each successive pattern that is deposited.Within this project, EHDA is used in conjunction with sol gel technology (nanometer sized particles in a solvent) to combine the small droplet size with low processing temperatures. In many MEMS the active component is often a ceramic material which needs to be processed at very high temperatures (>1000 C). Unfortunately, such a high temperature would destroy the delicate metal conductors and semiconductor or glass substrate. By using sol gel technology, the processing temperature can be reduced to between 500 and 600 C which means that the ceramic can be processed with metals, semiconductors and glass. In this way the complex MEMS, containing many different materials, can be produced.This project will examine a range of sol gel systems for use with EHDA. Production of a range of simple MEMS structures will be used to demonstrate the capabilities of the process.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.cranfield.ac.uk