The main objective of this Special Column is to bring together the new and innovative ideas, experiences and research results from researchers and practitioners on all aspects of MEMS.
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    Shota SANDO, Bo ZHANG, Tianhong CUI
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 574-580.

    Combination of shrink induced nano-composites technique and layer-by-layer (LbL) self-assembled graphene challenges controlling surface morphology. Adjusting shrink temperature achieves tunability on graphene surface morphology on shape memory polymers, and it promises to be an alternative in fields of high-surface-area conductors and molecular detection. In this study, self-assembled graphene on a shrink polymer substrate exhibits nanowrinkles after heating. Induced nanowrinkles on graphene with different shrink temperature shows distinct surface roughness and wettability. As a result, it becomes more hydrophilic with higher shrink temperatures. The tunable wettability promises to be utilized in, for example, microfluidic devices. The graphene on shrink polymer also exhibits capability of being used in sensing applications for pH and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) detection with advantages of label free and low cost, due to self-assembly technique, easy functionalization, and antigen-antibody reaction on graphene surface. The detection limit of AFP detection is down to 1 pg/mL, and therefore the sensor also has a significant potential for biosensing as it relies on low-cost self-assembly and label-free assay.

    Weizheng YUAN
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 567-573.

    This paper introduces the design and manufacturing technology of aerospace microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) characterized by high performance, multi-variety, and small batch. Moreover, several kinds of special MEMS devices with high precision, high reliability, and environmental adaptability, as well as their typical applications in the fields of aeronautics and aerospace, are presented.

    Lei DONG, Li-Feng WANG, Qing-An HUANG
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 554-556.

    An inductive link between two magnetically coupled coils in wireless microsystems is modeled by considering an additional parasitic capacitive link to describe the effect of environmental media. With a system of inductor-capacitor passive wireless sensors, the effects of environmental media are studied theoretically and experimentally for the first time. Results suggest that the capacitive link is non-negligible when the distance between the two coupled coils is comparable with the coupling area, particularly when the environmental medium has a large dielectric constant.

    Biyun LING, Yu WANG, Chunrong PENG, Bing LI, Zhaozhi CHU, Bin LI, Shanhong XIA
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 581-590.

    This paper presents a single-chip 3D electric field microsensor, in which a sensing element is set at the center to detect the Z-axis component of an electrostatic field. Two pairs of sensing elements with the same structure are arranged in a cross-like configuration to measure the X- and Y-axis electrostatic field components. An in-plane rotary mechanism is used in the microsensor to detect the X-, Y-, and Z-axis electrostatic field components simultaneously. The proposed microsensor is compact and presents high integration. The microsensor is fabricated through a MetalMUMPS process. Experimental results show that in the range of 0–50 kV/m, the linearity errors of the microsensor are within 5.5%, and the total measurement errors of the three electrostatic field components are less than 14.04%.

    Rong ZHU, Ruiyi QUE, Peng LIU
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 539-545.

    This article summarizes our studies on micro flow sensors fabricated on a flexible polyimide circuit board by a low-cost hybrid process of thin-film deposition and circuit printing. The micro flow sensor has merits of flexibility, structural simplicity, easy integrability with circuits, and good sensing performance. The sensor, which adheres to an object surface, can detect the surface flow around the object. In our study, we install the fabricated micro flow sensors on micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) to detect the surface flow variation around the aircraft wing and deduce the aerodynamic parameters of the MAVs in flight. Wind tunnel experiments using the sensors integrated with the MAVs are also conducted.

    Tingzhong XU, Hongyan WANG, Yong XIA, Zhiming ZHAO, Mimi HUANG, Jiuhong WANG, Libo ZHAO, Yulong ZHAO, Zhuangde JIANG
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 546-553.

    A novel micro-electromechanical systems piezoresistive pressure sensor with a diagonally positioned peninsula-island structure has high sensitivity for ultra-low-pressure measurement. The pressure sensor was designed with a working range of 0–500 Pa and had a high sensitivity of 0.06 mV·V−1·Pa−1. The trade-off between high sensitivity and linearity was alleviated. Moreover, the influence of the installation angle on the sensing chip output was analyzed, and an application experiment of the sensor was conducted using the built pipettor test platform. Findings indicated that the proposed pressure sensor had sufficient resolution ability and accuracy to detect the pressure variation in the pipettor chamber. Therefore, the proposed pressure sensor has strong potential for medical equipment application.

    Dazhi WANG, Xiaojun ZHAO, Yigao LIN, Tongqun REN, Junsheng LIANG, Chong LIU, Liding WANG
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 477-489.

    Electrohydrodynamic jet (E-Jet) is an approach to the fabrication of micro/nano-structures by the use of electrical forces. In this process, the liquid is subjected to electrical and mechanical forces to form a liquid jet, which is further disintegrated into droplets. The major advantage of the E-Jet technique is that the sizes of the jet formed can be at the nanoscale far smaller than the nozzle size, which can realize high printing resolution with less risk of nozzle blockage. The E-Jet technique, which mainly includes E-Jet deposition and E-Jet printing, has a wide range of applications in the fabrication of micro/nano-structures for micro/nano-electromechanical system devices. This technique is also considered a micro/nano-fabrication method with a great potential for commercial use. This study mainly reviews the E-Jet deposition/printing fundamentals, fabrication process, and applications.

    Kwok Siong TEH
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 490-509.

    Direct-write additive manufacturing refers to a rich and growing repertoire of well-established fabrication techniques that builds solid objects directly from computer-generated solid models without elaborate intermediate fabrication steps. At the macroscale, direct-write techniques such as stereolithography, selective laser sintering, fused deposition modeling ink-jet printing, and laminated object manufacturing have significantly reduced concept-to-product lead time, enabled complex geometries, and importantly, has led to the renaissance in fabrication known as the maker movement. The technological premises of all direct-write additive manufacturing are identical—converting computer generated three-dimensional models into layers of two-dimensional planes or slices, which are then reconstructed sequentially into three-dimensional solid objects in a layer-by-layer format. The key differences between the various additive manufacturing techniques are the means of creating the finished layers and the ancillary processes that accompany them. While still at its infancy, direct-write additive manufacturing techniques at the microscale have the potential to significantly lower the barrier-of-entry—in terms of cost, time and training—for the prototyping and fabrication of MEMS parts that have larger dimensions, high aspect ratios, and complex shapes. In recent years, significant advancements in materials chemistry, laser technology, heat and fluid modeling, and control systems have enabled additive manufacturing to achieve higher resolutions at the micrometer and nanometer length scales to be a viable technology for MEMS fabrication. Compared to traditional MEMS processes that rely heavily on expensive equipment and time-consuming steps, direct-write additive manufacturing techniques allow for rapid design-to-prototype realization by limiting or circumventing the need for cleanrooms, photolithography and extensive training. With current direct-write additive manufacturing technologies, it is possible to fabricate unsophisticated micrometer scale structures at adequate resolutions and precisions using materials that range from polymers, metals, ceramics, to composites. In both academia and industry, direct-write additive manufacturing offers extraordinary promises to revolutionize research and development in microfabrication and MEMS technologies. Importantly, direct-write additive manufacturing could appreciably augment current MEMS fabrication technologies, enable faster design-to-product cycle, empower new paradigms in MEMS designs, and critically, encourage wider participation in MEMS research at institutions or for individuals with limited or no access to cleanroom facilities. This article aims to provide a limited review of the current landscape of direct-write additive manufacturing techniques that are potentially applicable for MEMS microfabrication.

    Chuang YUE, Jing LI, Liwei LIN
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 459-476.

    High-performance, Si-based three-dimensional (3D) microbattery systems for powering micro/nano-electromechanical systems and lab-on-chip smart electronic devices have attracted increasing research attention. These systems are characterized by compatible fabrication and integratibility resulting from the silicon-based technologies used in their production. The use of support substrates, electrodes or current collectors, electrolytes, and even batteries used in 3D layouts has become increasingly important in fabricating microbatteries with high energy, high power density, and wide-ranging applications. In this review, Si-based 3D microbatteries and related fabrication technologies, especially the production of micro-lithium ion batteries, are reviewed and discussed in detail in order to provide guidance for the design and fabrication.

    Shifeng YU, Shuyu WANG, Ming LU, Lei ZUO
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 526-538.

    Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is one of the few techniques that allow direct determination of enthalpy values for binding reactions and conformational transitions in biomolecules. It provides the thermodynamics information of the biomolecules which consists of Gibbs free energy, enthalpy and entropy in a straightforward manner that enables deep understanding of the structure function relationship in biomolecules such as the folding/unfolding of protein and DNA, and ligand bindings. This review provides an up to date overview of the applications of DSC in biomolecular study such as the bovine serum albumin denaturation study, the relationship between the melting point of lysozyme and the scanning rate. We also introduce the recent advances of the development of micro-electro-mechanic-system (MEMS) based DSCs.

    He WANG, Liguo CHEN, Lining SUN
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 510-525.

    Digital microfluidics (DMF) is a versatile microfluidics technology that has significant application potential in the areas of automation and miniaturization. In DMF, discrete droplets containing samples and reagents are controlled to implement a series of operations via electrowetting-on-dielectric. This process works by applying electrical potentials to an array of electrodes coated with a hydrophobic dielectric layer. Unlike microchannels, DMF facilitates precise control over multiple reaction processes without using complex pump, microvalve, and tubing networks. DMF also presents other distinct features, such as portability, less sample consumption, shorter chemical reaction time, flexibility, and easier combination with other technology types. Due to its unique advantages, DMF has been applied to a broad range of fields (e.g., chemistry, biology, medicine, and environment). This study reviews the basic principles of droplet actuation, configuration design, and fabrication of the DMF device, as well as discusses the latest progress in DMF from the biochemistry perspective.

    Dehui XU, Yuelin WANG, Bin XIONG, Tie LI
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2017, 12(4): 557-566.

    In the past decade, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS)-based thermoelectric infrared (IR) sensors have received considerable attention because of the advances in micromachining technology. This paper presents a review of MEMS-based thermoelectric IR sensors. The first part describes the physics of the device and discusses the figures of merit. The second part discusses the sensing materials, thermal isolation microstructures, absorber designs, and packaging methods for these sensors and provides examples. Moreover, the status of sensor implementation technology is examined from a historical perspective by presenting findings from the early years to the most recent findings.