Transitioning the recent advances from nanoscience into nanotechnology that is producible en masse remains a largely unmet challenge worldwide. Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) in Pasadena, CA USA and the CEA/LETI – Minatec in Grenoble, France have together forged the Alliance for Nanosystems VLSI (very-large-scale-integration) to make real the oft-cited potential of nanoscale systems. To date, very few beachheads have been attained in this domain—largely due to the monumental challenge of merging the separate methodologies of nanoscale bio/chemical sensor device fabrication with state-of-the-art, foundry-scale microelectronics processing.
A Convergence of Technological Cultures
"A collaboration between LETI/Minatec and Caltech would exponentially accelerate the research in active nanosystems. We believe the convergence of technology and expertise possible within such a collaboration would be immensely powerful, and unprecedented worldwide."
" 'L'Alliance "Nanosystems VLSI' illustre parfaitement le potential d’innovation généré par la rencontre entre Science et Technologie. Je suis enthousiaste de voir Caltech et le LETI/MINATEC partager cette ambition."
Advancing a New Generation of Bio/Chemical Sensors
Figure 1 at left: Caltech's "NEMS nose" employs arrays of SOI-based, gas phase nanosensors that yield performance exceeding the state-of-the-art, yet the devices are a million-fold smaller than previous technologies. This significant miniaturization and enhanced sensitivity enables new classes of highly-multiplexed or ubiquitous chip-based sensor systems for fast detection of gaseous analytes. Applications for this technology range from the petrochemical, food-service, and security industries to biotechnology and clinical medicine.
Figure 2 at right: Caltech's plastic NEMS sensor technology has enabled unprecedented observations of cellular processes in real-time. The plastic sensors are embedded within multilevel microfluidic systems (bottom), enabling single-cell control and measurement (right). This first device generation has already provided ~2 orders of magnitude enhancement of both temporal and force resolution over previous technology; substantial further improvements are envisaged in the near term via Alliance technology.
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