Abstract: The outstanding electrical, mechanical, and chemical properties of carbon-based nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene, offer the potential to vastly improve the performance of nanoscale sensors systems. However, in order to take advantage of these properties novel nanomanufacturing techniques need to be developed to quickly and reliably incorporate carbon-based nanomaterials with the desired physical properties onto precise locations within micro- and macroscale structures. This seminar will present recent work on enabling the precise manufacturing of carbon-based nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) through the use of theoretical modeling and experimental optimization. First, I will discuss the use of thermodynamic modeling to control the diameter and number of walls in carbon nanotubes grown by chemical vapor deposition for nanomechanical applications. I will then demonstrate how quantum mechanics based models can be used to predict the piezoresistive strain sensitivity of single walled carbon nanotubes, and I will show that the sensitivity of CNT-based, multi-axis MEMS force sensors can be improved by up to three orders of magnitude through the use of optimized design and manufacturing techniques. I will also explain how new wafer-scale manufacturing techniques that are currently being developed in my lab can be used to improve the quality and uniformity of graphene-based nanoelectromechanical sensor systems. Finally, I will conclude with a discussion of several possible future directions in the field of nanomanufacturing, focusing primarily on the development of novel processes and equipment for the manufacturing of nanoscale materials and devices.
Biography: Michael Cullinan is a National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he is part of the Production Systems Group in the Engineering Laboratory. Dr. Cullinan received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2011, where he was part of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP). Dr. Cullinan also holds an M.S. (2008) in Mechanical Engineering from MIT as well as a B.S. in Engineering and a B.A. in Economics from Swarthmore College. Dr. Cullinan’s research focuses on the development of novel nanomanufacturing processes and equipment for sensing applications, and on finding ways to exploit nanoscale physical phenomena in order to improve existing micro- and macroscale devices.