Feb 7, 2008
Developing nanoscale inertial measurement systems with carbon nanotube oscillators.
Researchers at the Bourns College of Engineering University of California, Riverside, have designed a nanosensor for inertial measurement, using the oscillatory properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with or without fillings. Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) of ultrahigh frequencies have long been sought for a range of potentially beneficial applications. One of these is small low-power inertial sensors for GPS-denied guidance, navigation and control applications.
Molecular dynamic simulations by Xiaohong Wang and Qing Jiang of the mechanical engineering department at the University of California, Riverside, have demonstrated the feasibility of developing inertial nanosensors using double-walled carbon nanotubes fixed on a platform allowing the inner tube to telescope out of the outer one, as schematically illustrated in figure 1. They have demonstrated, using different CNTs and CNTs with or without encapsulated nanowires (shown in figure 2), that the performance of these nanosensors can be significantly enhanced by increasing the size and weight of the oscillating core. The designs point to the feasibility of developing inertial sensor systems at the nanoscale, which promise extensive applications in the military and commercial sectors. “Before such a sensor can actually be produced,” Jaing said, “there are still many challenges to be overcome.” Among these are developing robust methods for nanofabrication, filling CNTs with different materials and communicating signals from the nanoscale to the macroscopic world.
About the author
Dr Wang and Dr Jiang are based at the Department of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside.