ME 100/200 Seminar on "Opportunities and Challenges for AlN Piezoelectric NanoElectroMechanical Resonators and Switches"


Monday, October 11, 2010 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm


ESB 2001


Prof. Gianluca Piazza, UPenn Dept. of Electrical & Systems Engineering

Abstract:  Thanks to their nano-scaled dimensions NanoElectroMechanical Systems (NEMS) resonators and switches will yield significant advancements over state-of-the-art semiconductor-based products with respect to reduced power consumption, increased frequency of operation and sensing resolution and find application in the areas of communication, computing and biological sensing.

A major challenge associated with the demonstration of NEMS is the ability to efficiently transduce the mechanical device without the need of external and bulky setups. This talk presents noteworthy opportunities associated with the scaling of piezoelectric AlN films to the nano realm and their application to the making of efficient NEMS resonators and switches that can be directly interfaced with conventional electronics. 

Experimental data showing NEMS AlN resonators (250 nm thick with lateral features as small as 300 nm) vibrating at record-high frequencies approaching 10 GHz with Qs in excess of 500 will be presented.  The extreme compact form factor of these devices permits to envision large scale integration (LSI) of NEMS to develop disruptive microwave architectures.  Similarly, these NEMS resonators can yield unprecedented sensitivities and be employed to tag analyte concentrations that reach the part per trillion levels. Preliminary results on the use of NEMS resonators for gas sensing will be used to highlight the key advantages of the piezoelectric nano-transducer technology and how scaling can be advantageously harnessed to simultaneously achieve large dynamic ranges and extreme resolution.

The use of nano-piezoelectric films (50-100 nm thick) for switching applications will also be shown and experimental data confirming that bimorph nano-piezo-actuators have the same piezoelectric properties of microscale counterparts will be presented.  These actuators set a realistic pathway towards the demonstration of nanomechanical computing elements.

Bio:  Gianluca Piazza is a Wilf Family Term Assistant Professor in the department of Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE) at the University of Pennsylvania.  His research interests focus on piezoelectric micro and nano systems (MEMS/NEMS) for RF wireless communications, biological detection, wireless sensor platforms and all mechanical computing.  He also has general interest in the areas of micro/nano fabrication techniques and integration of micro/nano devices with state-of-the-art electronics.  He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley where he developed a new class of AlN contour-mode vibrating microstructures for RF communications. He has more than 10 years of experience working with piezoelectric materials.  He holds several patents in the field of micromechanical resonators some of which have recently been succesfully transferred to industry. He received the IBM Young Faculty Award in 2006 and has won, with his students, the Best Paper Award in Group 1 and 2 at the IEEE Frequency Control Symposium in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Host: Prof. Kimberly Turner