SPIE Microtechnologies ran 4-6 May in Barcelona -- read a sampling of the highlights here!
Actuators for intelligent soft machines: Herbert Shea plenary talk
|Smart Sensors conference chair José Luis Sánchez-Rojas,
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, (left) and symposium
co-chair Jacopo Iannacci, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, (right)
with plenary speaker Herbert Shea.
The final day of the conference started with a plenary talk by Herbert Shea, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, on miniaturized dielectric elastomer actuators and their potential use in intelligent soft machines.
Shea reviewed the principles of dielectric and elastomer actuators and their uses in various applications leveraging the large strain they can generate. He contrasted how in nature things tend to be soft and control is distributed, whereas in man-built machines the materials are hard and controls tend to be localized.
His work focuses on using soft materials, primarily silicone membranes, and exploring their use as actuators, in sensing, control, and energy harvesting. Various examples of devices built for applications ranging from grabbing debris in space, foldable actuators for micro aerial vehicles, and tactile displays were described, along with opportunities for future work.
Smart sensors for metrology, automobiles, and much more
Uwe Brand from Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (9517-26) gave a paper on smart sensors, standards, and calibration techniques for high-precision metrology, in the conference on Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS.
In the Cyber Physical Systems conference, Saskia Biehl, Fraunhofer-Institut für Schicht- und Oberflächentechnik, (9517-30) discussed her lab's work on thin-film sensors for use in harsh environments, in particular for load distribution and temperature measurements.
Following a review of the design and fabrication processes, real-life examples were provided showing sensors integrated into machine tools.
Looking to the future Biehl, projected that devices such as smart washers would be integrated into structures such as bridges, buildings, and automobiles to improve safety.
Christian Bolzmacher, Commissariat à L'Énergie Atomique, (9517-32) discussed recent work on smart glass so that automobile windows can be functionalized and used as acoustic antennas.
The aim of this work is to reduce urban-related accidents and help localize sounds such as emergency vehicle alarms in particular for people suffering from Presbycusis -- age-related hearing loss.
Ervin Kamenar, University of Rijeka, (9517-34) gave a talk on the development of river-based wireless sensor networks used to pinpoint the location of pollution sources. For long-term deployment, the sensor clusters require power. His lab's work has focused on autonomous solutions for power generation in rivers.
Microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip -- and the International Year of Light!
The well-attended and lively Bio-MEMS and Medical Mircodevices conference included talks on novel devices for biomedical applications, cancer detection, and DNA diagnostics. The engaged audience appreciated the excellent presentations by the speakers and interactive questions. Above, left to right, are Microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip session chair Ioanna Gioroudi (Technische Universität Wien), Daniel Yang (University of California, Berkeley), Yuri Belotti (University of Dundee), Georgia Kaprou (National Center for Scientific Research Demokritos and University of Crete), Donald Wlodkowic (RMIT University), and Lukas Brandhoff (Universität Bremen). Conference chair Sander van den Driesche (Universität Bremen) also chaired a session on microfluidics/lab-on-a-chip.
The photo was taken in the courtyard of the conference hotel where attendees enjoyed the beautiful Barcelona weather and a display featuring SPIE's International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL) posters. Attendees at the conference also received a complimentary copy of the book Celebrating Light published by SPIE in observance of the IYL.
Personalized medicine: Stefan Harrer plenary talk
|From left, session chair Ion Tiginyanu, Academy of Sciences of
Moldova, plenary speaker Stefan Harrer, and session chair
Sander van den Driesche, Universität Bremen
Plenary speaker Stefan Harrer, IBM Research Australia, gave an overview of sensors and analytics for the emerging field of precision medicine.
He reviewed the current state of the art in nanopore technologies and discussed future trends and opportunities including areas of significant investment for IBM, including two bionanosensor projects in the next-generation DNA-sequencing and drug discovery space.
The path from fast and cheap personalized sequencing via smart genomics towards personal prevention and treatment is reshaping medicine as we know it, Harrer said.
Integrated sensing technologies closely linked to big data generation and analytics constitute the backbone of personalized medicine -- the "next big thing" emerging from marrying nano- and microtechnology, biotechnology, and big data.
Nanobiosensors and microspectrometers
In the conference on Nanotechnology, Arben Merkoçi, Institut Català de Nanotecnologia, spoke on nanobiosensors for diagnostics (9519-15), reviewing recent advances in new optical bio-detection systems and on-chip spectroscopy technologies with applications such as cancer detection. He said that some projections suggest that by 2030 11 million people a year will die from cancer, and stressed that 30 percent of these cases are preventable if detected.
Reinoud Wolffenbuttel of Technische Universiteit Delft gave a talk on the next generation of MEMS-based optical microspheres and recent research from his group (9517-14) in the conference on Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS.
Presently available MEMS-based microspectrometers are typically composed of MEMS devices for operation as dispersive elements or as tunable resonators within optical systems that also include collimating optics, detectors, and, in some applications, an excitation light source, he said.
However, the actual exploitation of the functional integration of the entire microspectrometer with all its core components within one functional unit (the IC-compatible package or -- even more challenging -- the chip) imposes several challenges. Wolffenbuttel discussed the state of the art and detailed some of the technology challenges, and introduced some of potential applications.
In the poster hall
Tuesday's poster sessions provided ample opportunity to talk with authors about their work.
Among the poster authors was Sai Gao, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (above), who presented on a new technique for in-situ calibration of AFM cantilevers (9517-41). She is also a co-author on an invited paper on "Smart sensors and calibration standards for high-precision metrology" (9517-26) in the Smart Sensors, Actuators and MEMS conference.
At left above, Ioanna Giouroudi, Technische Universität Wien, co-chair of the conference on Bio-MEMS and Medical Microdevices, discusses a paper at the poster session.
Opening with a look at innovation in Catalonia
SPIE Microtechnologies 2015 began in Barcelona today with presentations from leading research institutes, industry representatives, and government agencies.
Symposium chair Ulrich Schmid, Technische Universität Wien, opened the event with thanks to the conference chairs and program committee members for putting together an excellent program. He offered particular thanks to local co-chair Carles Cané, Centre Nacional de Microelectronica, for his contributions.
|Mariona Sanz Ausàs
Cané highlighted the region's activity in research and industry, and introduced Mariona Sanz Ausàs, Director, Unit of Innovation and Internationalization of the Competitiveness Agency (ACCIÓ) of the Catalan Government.
In fulfilling its responsibilities, Ausàs said, her organization has developed tools for innovation to attract investment, encourage entrepreneurship, and stimulate the economy of the region. It has been successful in accessing funds through the European Commission and Catalonia.
In meeting the global challenges facing European Economies -- such as commercializing research, promoting sustainable and inclusive urban development, guaranteeing a sustainable food system that is adapted to climate change, promoting safe societies in the context of transition toward digital societies, and improving the individual's quality of life -- ACCIÓ has aligned with Europe-wide programs and policies.
Their strategy, labeled RIS3CAT, is based on 4 pillars: choices, competitive advantages, collaborative leadership, and critical mass, Ausàs said. They have identified seven leading sector fields of industry and service-sector activity. Technologies represented at SPIE's Mircotechnologies conference play a key role in several of the sectors.
Ausàs said 35 small companies in Catalonia had received grants from the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, and compared that to a total of 46 companies who were awarded grants from the whole of Germany.
Sensors and the 'industrial internet': Robert Plana plenary talk
|From left, symposium chair Ulrich Schmid, plenary speaker
Robert Plana, and local co-chair Carles Cané --
and the SPIE International Year of Light tie
Robert Plana, Alstom, gave an interesting talk on the increasing role of smart sensors, distributed sensors and the Internet of Things. He made comparisons to the industrial revolution, saying that now we are in the industrial internet where everything is smart and connected.
In addition, Plana noted, the business model has changed: the customer now wants to be part of product development to ensure that their expectations are included. He gave some examples in personalized medicine, energy infrastructure (networking of wind farms to improve efficiency). and transportation.
With the increase in sensors, Plana said, new ways of processing and visualizing data need to be developed. An example is a small dashboard display developed for advanced power-grid monitoring, where data from a sophisticated distributed sensor network is presented in a visualization scheme showing the health index of the system and helping the operator make decisions.
Plana commented on the broad and interesting range of topics contained in the conferences and the opportunities for cross-fertilization, stating that, while it is often claimed, "this conference really is an example of where this is put into action."
Energy harvesting and photovoltaic devices
|Harvesting session chair José Luis Sánchez-Rojas Aldavero
(Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha), at left,
with speaker Michele Pozzi
Conferences on Smart Sensors, Actuators and MEMS; Cyber Physical Systems; Nanotechnology; and Integrated Photonics followed the plenary talk, covering a wide range of state-of-the-art technologies. Among the talks:
In the conference on Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS, Stephen Beeby of the University of Southampton, gave a talk (9517-1) on vibration energy harvesting, focusing on fabrication, miniaturization, and practical applications, including screen-printed piezoelectric harvesters designed for use in helicopter health and usage monitoring systems.
Stephan Barth from the Fraunhofer-Institut für Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik spoke on the influence of process parameters on properties of piezoelectric AlN and AlScN thin films for sensor and energy harvesting applications (9517-2).
Symposium co-chair Jacopo Iannacci, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, spoke on MEMS-based energy harvesting, in "From MEMS to macro-world: a micro-milling-machined wideband vibration piezoelectric energy harvester" (9517-3).
Michele Pozzi from Newcastle University described a wearable energy harvester developed by his group at Newcastle and researchers from Cranfield University (9517-4). The device is designed to be worn on the side of the knee. Experiments have been carried out using a servomotor reproducing several gaits.
Among first-day speakers in the Nanotechnology conference was Peter Gaiduk, Belarusian State University, on "Self-organized nano-voids in strained SiGe/Si hetero-structures for plasmonic application" (9519-5). The talk included discussion on possible plasmonic structures for the enhancement of the efficiency of Si-based photovoltaic devices.
Coffee on the patio -- in beautiful Barcelona
SPIE Microtechologies participants enjoy a coffee break outdoors on a patio of the Hotel Alimara in Barcelona on Monday, opening day of the biennial three-day conference.
Welcome! at Casa Milà
The symposium welcome reception was held at Casa Milà, known informally as "La Pedrera" ("The Quarry"), built by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi in the early 20th century and now a designated UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site.
An artwork celebrating the International Year of Light and created specifically for a space in the Gaudi house by artist Andrew Chappel (above) was on display for the first time.
Conference attendees enjoyed the networking opportunity and ambience of the Gaudi house (above) as well as some local refreshments afterwards (below).
All photos © SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, except where noted.