CESTA Workshop on Novel Sensing Technologies

When: Thursday, October 24, 2019, 9 am–5 pm

Where: 110 PAN

The purpose of this workshop is to identify research directions that CESTA should pursue in the area of sensing technology development. Possible topics of discussion include (but are not limited to):

  • Technologies for arrays of miniature sensors
  • Reduction of power-per-bit consumption in sensors
  • Communication with distributed sensor arrays
  • Deployment of large distributed sensor arrays

Recordings of related talks:

Preliminary program:

9:00 – Vuk Mandic, Welcome

9:05 – Saad Bedros, College of Science and Engineering, MnDrive

9:15 – John Sartori, Application-Specific Optimizations for Ultra-low-power Sensing Systems

For many important and emerging sensing applications, including the internet of things, remote sensor networks, health monitors, and wearable electronics, energy efficiency is the primary factor that determines critical system characteristics such as size, weight, cost, reliability, and lifetime. Although application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) have higher energy efficiency, low-power general purpose processors (GPPs) are the preferred solution for many such applications, due to the evolving nature of these applications and the high costs of custom IC design. Unfortunately, conventional energy reduction techniques for GPPs reduce energy by sacrificing performance. As such, their impact is limited to the point where performance degradation becomes unacceptable. In this talk, I will discuss novel application-specific optimization techniques that push the limits of energy reduction for GPPs without reducing performance, bringing the energy consumption of a GPP running the application closer to that of an ASIC.

9:45 – Yahya Tousi and Rhonda Franklin, Integrated Radars, Wideband Phased Arrays, and Antenna Sensors

We overview the ongoing research in circuits and microwave sensors and radios. First, Tousi’s research group discusses how mm-wave and Terahertz sensors and wireless systems can open the door to new sensing applications as well as significantly improve the capacity of radios. Next, Harjani’s group overviews wideband phased arrays, ultra-low power radios, and jammer resistant radios. Finally, Prof. Franklin will talk about their novel virtual antenna approaches that leverage Fabry-Perot design concepts to create high aperture efficiency antenna systems to produce virtual antennas that require no feedlines.

10:15 – Steve Koester, Novel Graphene-based Sensor Platforms

Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of sp2-bonded carbon atoms that has the potential to create revolutionary types of sensors for a wide range of applications. This potential is made possible by the unique physical properties of graphene, particularly its atomic-scale thickness, which makes it highly sensitive to adsorbed analytes. Graphene can also be modified with a wide range of surface receptors which can be used to realize highly multiplexed sensor arrays. In this presentation, I will describe several novel sensors concepts that have been developed at the University of Minnesota, including graphene variable capacitors (varactors), which can enable wireless sensors and graphene "nano-tweezers" which have the potential to realize point-of-care biosensors with rapid readout capability.

10:45 – Break

11:00 – Mike McAlpine and Sarah Swisher, 3D Printing for Sensing Applications

The ability to three-dimensionally interweave biological and functional materials could enable the creation of devices possessing personalized geometries and functionalities. Our approach is to utilize extrusion-based multi-material 3D printing, which is an additive manufacturing technology that offers freeform, autonomous fabrication. This blending of 3D printing, functional materials, and ‘living’ inks may enable next-generation 3D printed sensing devices. These include 1) soft sensors for deformation which can be directly written onto tissue, and 2) semiconducting optoelectronic sensors for detecting light.

11:30 – Matt Johnson, High-Density Sensor Arrays for Deep Brain Recording

The field of neuroscience has greatly benefited in recent years from the development of high-density sensor technologies that can interface with large populations of cells within the brain. In this talk, I will discuss several novel electrode array technologies that have helped to better understand brain dynamics in the context of both disease and titration of therapies. The talk will also discuss important challenges that remain in building interface technology that can sample from distributed brain regions simultaneously at the cellular level.

12:00 – Lunch

1:00 – Raj Rajamani, Sensor Based Estimation for Interesting Motion Analysis Applications

This talk will discuss how the use of inexpensive sensors together with model-based estimation algorithms can create sophisticated low-cost monitoring devices. These devices can work reliably and can be commercialized in the marketplace. Examples discussed will include a non-contacting magnetic position estimation sensor, a wearable motion analysis system that utilizes a novel electromagnet-assisted IMU, and a smart bicycle that looks out for itself on busy roads.

1:30 – Tianhong Cui, Polymer Highly Sensitive Electron Tunneling Accelerometer

This talk presents polymer membrane based tunneling accelerometers fabricated by hot embossing replication with silicon molds. The silicon molds were prepared by acombinative etching technique involving anisotropic bulk etching and modified plasma dry etching. The constructed molds hold both pyramid pits and positive profile sidewalls with smooth surfaces and steep angles, which were necessary for the hot embossing demolding. After electrodes patterned on embossed PMMA structures, the accelerometers were packaged and assembled. The exponential relationship between tip currents and applied deflection voltages presented a tunneling barrier height of 0.17 eV. The natural frequency of sensors was about 128 Hz. The bandwidth of the feedback system was 6.3 kHz. The sensitivity of voltage over acceleration was 20.6 V/g, and the resolution was 0.2485 micro-g.

2:00 – Break-out sessions—tentative topics:

  • Arrays of miniature sensors (110 PAN, Taner)
  • Reduction of power-per-bit consumption in sensors (120 PAN, Sarah)
  • Deployment of and communication with large distributed sensor arrays (130 PAN, Vuk)

3:30 – Closing session, reports from break-out discussions (coffee available)

4:15 – Adjourn