Areas of Nanotechnology [Mechanical engineering]

Areas of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology Research at the School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

Nanotechnology is understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a sheet of paper is about 100, 000 nanometers thick), where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, manufacturing, and manipulating matter at this length scale.

At the nanoscale, the physical, chemical, and biological properties of materials differ in fundamental and valuable ways from the properties of individual atoms and molecules or bulk matter. Nanotechnology research is directed toward understanding and creating improved materials, devices, and systems that exploit these new properties.

Nanotechnology is a dynamic and expanding research area in the School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University. The research activities are built upon traditional mechanical engineering disciplines, but extended into the nanoscale science and technology with the use of modern experimental and computational tools. Current research activities include nanoscale heat transfer, fluidics, manufacturing, optics, nano- and mciro-scale electro-mechanical devices (NEMS and MEMS), with Most of the research is conducted at the newly established Birck Nanotechnology Center. A number of research laboratories provide state-of-the-art facilities for Nanotechnology research projects:

MEMS and Nanotechnology have enabled label-free and scalable detection of biologically significant molecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins and small molecules whose detection in small quantities is of paramount importance for early disease diagnostics. Current research areas include 1) development of nanomechanical and optical biosensors and their application to detection of a variety of proteins including cancer markers 2) novel receptor molecules and their integration into biosensing, 3) biosensing using nanoparticles, 4) rapid detection of pathogens and 5) sensitivity enhancement of biosensors. The work is currently supported by NSF and NASA.

Micro- and Nano- Fluidics
Research in the microfluidics laboratory is concentrated in two primary areas: experimental fluid dynamics in micro/nano domains and microfabricating novel microfluidic devices. Ongoing projects include fundamental biology (response of live cells to flow stresses, below right), fundamental fluid mechanics (characterizing microscopic supersonic flows, below left; nanoparticle flow dynamics), and characterizing biolomedical microdevices (below center). Currently the Microfluidics laboratory is supported by the NSF (Ocean Biology and Nanoscale Science and Engineering), DOD (Crane-NSWC), the State of Indiana, and industry.

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