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Research Projects

A Biocompatible SiC Antenna for In-Vivo Sensing Applications

Silicon carbide (SiC) is one of the few semiconducting materials that combine biocompatibility and great sensing potentiality. SiC's chemical inertness, superior tribological properties, hydroxyapatite-like osseointegration, and well-known hemocompatibility make it a very promising material for an intelligent implantable sensor, which will be bio-compatible in nature, have a longer operational lifetime and sensing capability, and will not require additional encasing. This implantable sensor is basically a high frequency (GHz) SiC antenna.

The hypothesis of a SiC based antenna, to be used for glucose monitoring for instance, is that the changes in the medium surrounding the antenna affect the antenna properties such as input-impedance and resonance frequency, and these changes can be used to estimate the patient's plasma glucose level. This hypothesis is based on the assumption that the changes in other minerals in the blood - calcium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium will have a minor effect on the antenna parameters. In reality, this assumption is quite reasonable. Ansoft simulation results show a resonance frequency shift dependency on the permittivity change surrounding the antenna sensor. The development of a fully SiC based implantable RF antenna is part of the critical path for a continuous glucose monitoring system. A simple patch antenna has been selected for this antenna sensor. A simulation of the patch structure using heavily doped n-type SiC predicts very promising antenna performance in vivo. The heavily doped poly 3C-SiC (antenna electrode) was grown on a 4H-SiC semi-insulating substrate using Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) and fabricated using photolithography and micromachining processes.

Nano Filled Trench Capacitor Structures to Impact Energy Storage

The research aim is to investigate nano filled trench capacitor structures (T- metal-insulator-metal (MIMs)) to serve as the basis for the next-generation energy storage devices that make use of densely packed interfaces and have the capability of being utilized with renewable energy sources. This investigation will optimize and characterize electrospun nanofibers as alternating high- dielectrics and/or electrodes for trench capacitors in order to improve leakage and breakdown. The research hypothesis is that equivalent planar capacitance (EPC) performance of existing supercapacitors can be improved by one order of magnitude to ~1000 µF-cm-2 using a 1:200 aspect ratio nano filled trench design, compared to the current industrial market capacitors at ~100 µF-cm-2.


Design, Simulation, Prototype and Test of a Microfluidic Energy Generation System

This research seeks to develop a microfluidic energy generation (MFEG) system, which is a miniaturized system that converts mechanical energy from a flow, such as the circulatory or the respiratory system, to move a millimeter turbine and transform the rotational mechanical energy into electrical energy. The microfluidic energy generator system can potentially be installed and used in different orientations and positions. A tiny turbine combines impulse and reaction behavior through a cross flow rotor and is complemented with a magnet generator, which is a micro system that uses the changes in the magnetic field to induce current in the coils, where the magnetic field is produced by permanent magnets attached on the rotor.


Fabrication, Characterization, and Application of an Ofi Mucilage Nanofiber Membrane System

Research Aim: The scientific goal is to enable the cost-effective production of nontoxic sustainable biodegradable cactus membranes for two specific applications: (i) filtering and (ii) sensing. We will achieve the scientific goal by validating the hypothesis that the electro/mechanical and chemical properties of cactus nanofiber membranes makes this novel material suitable for anti-biofouling, microbiological filtration and sensing. Preliminary investigations by the PIs have led to a successful experimental fabrication of novel cactus nanofiber membranes with varied geometry, providing promise for scalability for future commercialization. The intellectual merit and transformative objective of this proposed research will significantly enhance the body of knowledge for water remediation, environmental sustainability, nano porous filtration membranes, and sensing and delivery platforms using non-toxic natural materials, supporting the basis for the next generation of economically sustainable devices. The broader impact and educational component of our research will provide fundamental understanding of how current and future natural material membrane systems can affect water, wastewater, overall environmental quality, and public health issues. With the knowledge gained from this novel research we will be able to make a global impact, addressing environmental, social/health care, economical, and engineering design needs. By using a natural material that has the added advantage of being inherently renewable, this research will provide a sustainable technology for water filtration that is economically competitive and affordable across the globe. This research will shed new knowledge on the engineering design of filtration and sensing systems that may use natural materials for water. This research can impact worldwide water filtration and ultimately lead to further investigations for air and gas filtration, oil absorption, sensors, tissue scaffolding, drug delivery, enzyme transporting, food additive, and textiles.


Thermal Infrared Reflective Metal Oxide Sol-Gel Coatings for Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composite Structures

This research presents novel synthesizing and controlling techniques of the actuating responses of carbon fiber reinforced multifunctional composites. The proposed objectives are to design, model, and characterize a novel thermal infrared reflective coating for carbon fiber reinforced composites. In addition, enhanced functionalities of the carbon fiber reinforced composites will be identified for military defense utilization. By altering metal oxide sol gel thicknesses and dopant levels, optimal combinations giving the maximum infrared thermal shielding will be proven. The overall objectives of the dopants are to primarily increase thermal reflectivity, increase uniform surface coverage, and enhance interfacial bonding.

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