The Best Paper Award for the 1st International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems was awarded to Tyler Waterfall, Kendall Teichert and Professor Brian Jensen. The conference was part of the 2007 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences.
Many applications in microelectromechanical systems require physical actuation for implementation or operation, and on-chip sensors would allow control of these actuators. The paper presented experimental evidence showing that a certain class of thermal actuators can be used simultaneously as an actuator and a sensor to control the actuator's force or displacement output. By measuring the current and voltage supplied to the actuator, a one-to-one correspondence is found between a given voltage and current and a measured displacement or force. This truly integrated sensor/actuator combination will lead to efficient, on-chip control of motion for applications including microsurgery, biological cell handling, and optic positioning.