High-precision ”nano-positioners” can revolutionise computer hard drives efficiency

August 21st, 2008 - 11:46 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, August 21 (ANI): A Purdue University researcher has invented a tiny device called a monolithic comb drive, which may be used as a high-precision “nano-positioner” for such uses as biological sensors and computer hard drives.

Jason Vaughn Clark, an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, insists that the motorized positioning device he has created has twice the dexterity of similar devices being made to boost the performance of biological sensors and computer hard drives.

The researcher says that his design may make it possible to improve a class of probe-based sensors that detect viruses and biological molecules.

The present-day sensors detect objects using two different components: A probe is moved while at the same time the platform holding the specimen is positioned.

Clark says that his approach would replace both components with a single one the monolithic comb drive.

He says that the new design could help improve the working speed as well as the resolution of sensors, and that the innovation would be small enough to fit on a microchip.

According to him, the higher resolution might be used to design future computer hard drives capable of high-density data storage and retrieval.

Clark calls the device monolithic because it contains comb drive components that are not mechanically and electrically separate, compared to conventional comb drives that are structurally “decoupled” to keep opposite charges separated.

“Comb drives represent an advantage over other technologies. In contrast to piezoelectric actuators that typically deflect, or move, a fraction of a micrometer, comb drives can deflect tens to hundreds of micrometers. And unlike conventional comb drives, which only move in one direction, our new device can move in two directions - left to right, forward and backward - an advance that could really open up the door for many applications,” he said.

A presentation on this innovation was made at the University Government Industry Micro/Nano Symposium in Louisville last month. (ANI)

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