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About Sensors and Integrated Microsystems Laboratory

 Battery cell, phonics, BioMEMS, MEMS-Reliability, Harsh environmentsThe Sensors and Integrated Microsystems Laboratory (SIMSLab) was established by Patricia M. Nieva at the University of Waterloo in 2006. SIMSLab uses a cross disciplinary approach to develop exciting new sensing solutions for use in real world applications while exploring the fundamentals of science to further the understanding of its researchers and the community. With this comes a wide spectrum of exciting research projects explored in the laboratory. The current projects are summarized in brief below:

Electric vehicle sensors

As gasoline prices rise, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) continue to receive more attention. In such vehicles, accurate estimation of how much energy is left in the battery is crucial for power management and so that the driver knows when to recharge the battery. The SIMSLab is currently developing a state of charge (SOC) estimation sensor with General Motors that can be installed in the next generation of HEVs and EVs.

Biomicro-electromechanical systems (BioMEMS) sensors

Currently in development is a microfluidic based optical protein sensor that utilizes the Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR) of noble metal nanoparticles. The goal of the project is to create low cost, low form factor point-of-care (POC) devices for medical diagnostics and environmental health monitoring using protein biomarkers. These devices will employ microsensor nanoparticle arrays in a lab-on-a-chip microfluidic architecture for efficient and precise diagnostics, which will ultimately replace costly and time consuming manual methods of blood analysis.

Harsh environments

Today, pressure and temperature sensors for harsh environment applications do not meet the requirements for size and sampling rate for internal combustion engines applications. The goal of this project is the development of novel pressure and temperature sensors that can continuously monitor conditions from within the engine. Continuous monitoring of combustion quality of engine cylinders leads to reduced emissions and improved fuel economy. This technology enables the automobile industry to manufacture more environmentally friendly internal combustion engines.

MEMS reliability

SIMSLab examines both the fabrication and performance reliability of micro-(opto)-electromechanical systems (MEMS/MOEMS) devices. Current work focuses on the fabrication induced residual stress associated with thin film silicon nitride and on the thermal optical performance of microbolometers and similar MEMS/MOEMS devices.

MEMS phononics

Phononic bandgap crystals, for classical elastic wave localization, are composite structures created through the N-dimensional (N = 1, 2, 3, 4, for up to three physical dimensions and one time dimension) periodic or aperiodic arrangement of inclusion media within a host medium of contrasting characteristic acoustic impedance. The SIMSLab studies the theory, design methodology and experiments of electrostatically actuated phononic bandgap crystal architectures and investigates and develops the applicability of our phononic bandgap crystal architectures to physical sensors, signal processing elements, the improvement of MEMS and scalability to nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS).