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NEWS
Breakthrough In Micro-Device Fabrication
September 26, 2005

Nanostructured micro-devices may be mass produced at a lower cost, and with a wider variety of shapes and compositions than ever before, for dramatic improvements in device performance by utilizing very small biologically produced structures. These entirely new biologically-enabled approaches are detailed in the current issue of the International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology, published on behalf of The American Ceramic Society.

This study’s newly invented approaches for the low-cost mass production of micro-devices could yield unprecedented breakthroughs in genetically engineered microdevices (GEMs) for biomedical, computing, environmental cleanup, defense and numerous other applications.

Conventional microfabrication processes, similar to methods used to make computer microchips, are expensive (i.e., capital equipment intensive) and not well-suited for directly producing large numbers of complex, three-dimensional, nanostructured devices with a wide variety of chemistries and properties. Nature, on the other hand, provides spectacular examples of micro-organisms that synthesize microscopic nanostructured shells with well-controlled and highly-reproducible 3-D shapes and features currently unattainable by manmade processes. However, the naturally occurring diatom microshells do not have the specific properties needed for device applications, such as electrical conductivity, biocompatibility, thermal stability, and chemical compatibility.

According to Kenneth H. Sandhage, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and the B. Mifflin Hood Professor of Ceramic Engineering and Director of the Biologically Enabled Advanced Manufacturing Center at the School of Materials and Science Engineering, and the Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, “By demonstrating that biologically derived structures can be chemically modified without changing the starting shapes or fine features, we have opened the door for new research and development in the processing and application of many devices that would otherwise be very difficult or expensive to produce.”

Dr. Sandhage can be reached at (404) 894-6882 or ken.sandhage@mse.gatech.edu.


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