Professors in the Micro/Nano Research Area investigate engineering developments and scientific questions related to the micro- (10-6 m) and nano- (10-9 m) scales. These developments can be related to materials such as 1D or 2D materials (i.e. nanofibers or graphene), biomedical systems such as point-of-care diagnostic devices or biomimetic tissue engineering, sensing and actuation devices such as accelerometers or ultrasound imaging devices, energy and thermal systems such as micro- batteries and fuel cells, manufacturing methods including additive manufacturing, micro-robotics, and much more. The key connecting theme of all Micro/Nano research is that it investigates phenomena that occur at these small scales and/or device implementation methods relevant to these small scales.

You can learn more about our various research activities by visiting the individual labs of our faculty members, the NanoFab, Nano Institute of Utah, and the micro/nano track webpage (link to come).

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Faculty and Labs

Jake Abbott
Lab – Utah Telerobotics

We are interested in microscale and mesoscale robotic systems that manipulate remote environments. This includes fully untethered microrobots as well as robotic manipulators operating with microscale precision. Our primary focus is on medical applications, including in the eye, the inner ear, the gastrointestinal tract, and the brain. We have expertise in the use of magnetic fields to manipulate objects without any direct physical contact.

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Claire Acevedo
Lab: Fracture and Fatigue of Skeletal Tissues

We investigate mechanisms of deformation and fracture in skeletal tissues and biological materials at multiple length-scales (from nano- to microscales). For this purpose, we are using experimental high-energy x-ray instruments, such as Synchrotron Radiation X-ray Micro-Tomography (SRuT) to explore microstructural design principles, and Small- and Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering/Diffraction (SAXS/WAXD) to study deformation at the collagen fibrillar and mineral nanoscales.

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Jiyoung Chang
Lab: Wearable NEMS

We explore the micro/nanoscale low-dimensional materials for the flexible and wearable electronics applications. We synthesize and characterize a wide range of materials, including functional nanofibers and 2D materials (graphene, MoS2 etc.), to understand the materials and/or mechanical properties using state-of-the-art manufacturing system built in the lab. We also fabricate devices such as high-sensitivity gas sensors, energy harvesting device, and flexible circuits using the materials.

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Tianlie Feng
Lab – Feng MEX Lab

Our research is to push the frontiers of thermal energy transport, conversion, and storage in complex systems to extremes. Specifically, we target materials properties for ultra-high temperatures (1000-3000 °C), ultra-low temperatures (-270 °C), ultra-high thermal conductivity (2000 W/mK), ultra-low thermal conductivity (<0.01 W/mK), ultra-high power density, and ultra-fast energy transfer rate, from the atomic level to human scale. Our research methods include both advanced simulations and experiments, aiming for both fundamental sciences and cutting-edge technologies.

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Mathieu Francoeur
Lab – Radiative Energy Transfer

Research at the RETL is multidisciplinary at the interface of mechanical engineering, applied physics, electrical engineering, materials science and mathematics. Current applications of interests include thermophotovoltaic power generation, near-field radiative heat transfer modeling in 3D complex geometries, design of materials with unique radiative properties, optical characterization of nanostructures, near-field thermal spectroscopy and radiation-conduction transition.

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Henry Fu
Lab: Fluids and Biomechanics

We study the solid and fluid mechanics of swimming microorganisms and microengineered propulsion. We investigate how microorganisms swim in complex environments, and how that affects their biology.  We employ a mix of theoretical, numerical, and experimental methods to examine the fundamental principles of propulsion of microscale robotics, with application to drug delivery and microtransport and assembly.

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Bruce Gale
Lab: Utah Center of Excellence for Biomedical Microfluidics

We apply principles of microfluidics to the development of medical devices of all kinds: diagnostic tests for DNA, proteins, cells, or viruses; microscale separation devices for nanoparticles, biological particles, cells, and small animals; microfluidic devices for sorting, manipulation, and processing of fluids; microfluidic devices for chemistry, materials analysis, and sensing; miniature medical devices for drug delivery, nerve repair, vascular repair, and eye applications. Overall, the lab focuses on the design and manufacturing of biomedical microfluidic devices, typically with industrial partners and collaborators across the University of Utah campus.

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Jungkyu (Jay) Kim
Lab: Biomedical Micro/Nano Systems

Biomedical Micro/Nano Systems lab focuses on developing innovative biomedical systems for chemical and biomolecule detection and biomimetic tissue engineering by using micro/nanotechnologies. For biomolecule detection, by coupling microfluidic manipulation strategies with various sensing mechanisms (capillary electrophoresis, impedance sensors, electrochemical sensors, and optical sensors as well as a novel paper microfluidic platform), we are investigating on how to advance rapid and portable medical diagnostics and search life signature beyond Earth. For biomimetic tissue engineering, we are studying various organ chips mimicking ocular, auditory, cardiovascular, and kidney systems to reconstruct disease models for biophysiochemical investigation and drug screenings.

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Yong Lin Kong
Lab –  Additive Manufacturing Laboratory

The synergistic integration of nanomaterials with 3D printing can enable the creation of architecture and devices with an unprecedented level of functional integration. Such freeform fabrication capability could overcome the geometrical, mechanical and material dichotomies between conventional manufacturing technologies and a broad range of three-dimensional systems. Our research group focuses on the multiscale integration of nanomaterials in an extrusion-based 3D printing process, enabling the creation of unique functional bioelectronics that can address unmet clinical needs.

Owen Kingstedt
Lab – High Strain-Rate Mechanics of Materials

We investigate the mechanisms that govern the plastic behavior of materials through novel experimentation techniques (developed in house) and via electron microscopy across the meso, micro and nano lengthscales.

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Kam Leang
Lab – Design, Automation, Robotics & Control (DARC Lab)

Our research focuses on design, automation, robotics and control for intelligent autonomous systems. Applications encompass high-speed, high-precision micro- and nano-scale positioning systems, scanning probe microscopy, and robotics.

Steven Naleway
Lab – Bioinspired Science and Engineering

We apply advanced manufacturing techniques such as freeze casting, biotemplating, and magnetic manipulation to fabricate materials with tailored features at the micro- and nano-scales. These materials are tested in a variety of applications including energy, biomedical, and structural materials.

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Pania Newell
Lab – Integrated Multi-Physics Laboratory

At Integrated Multi-Physics Laboratory, we are interested in cross-disciplinary research areas that involve theoretical, experimental, and computational mechanics and sciences. Specifically, we are interested in heterogeneous natural and manmade porous materials and a fundamental understanding of coupled-physics phenomena from the atomic scale to the continuum scale. We explore these complex systems through the development and integration of novel theory, experiment, simulation, and data science.

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Keunhan (Kay) Park
Lab – Utah Nano-Energy

Focuses on research and education of nanoscale energy transport and conversion processes. Our research interests include fundamental physics of thermal, electrical, and photonic energy interactions at nanoscales, nanostructure-based energy applications, nanoscale thermophysical instrumentations, and tip-based nanoimaging and spectroscopy.

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Bart Raeymaekers
Lab – Utah Tribology & Precision Engineering

Precision design and manufacturing of complex mechanical systems and devices. Our approach to research is basic science and applied physics-oriented. We attempt to understand the underlying physics of the problems we study, and then apply this newly gained knowledge to designing an optimized system or device that finds use in an engineering application. Our primary research expertise is in micro- and nanoscale tribology and surface engineering, (elasto)hydrodynamic and thin film lubrication, ultra-thin protective coatings, and processing and manufacturing of novel engineered materials.

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Sameer Rao

Research Interests include: Multiscale heat & mass transfer, Energy conversion & storage, Water harvesting & purification, and Thermal management.

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Shad Roundy
Integrated Self-Powered Sensing

We investigate methods to harvest energy and small scales from the environment (i.e. from vibrations, human motion, temperature gradients) to power tiny wireless sensors that make up the Internet of Things. We also investigate methods to wireless transfer power to tiny sensing devices in hard to reach places, such as inside the human body. Finally, we develop novel micro-sensors for many applications.

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Himanshu Sant

Research Interests include: Biomedical microfluidics and Bionanotechnology, Drug delivery devices and Biomedical microscale devices, Integrated pathogen detection devices, Biological and nanoparticle separations, and Novel MEMS and microfluidic devices for clinical and environmental applications.

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Pai Wang
Lab – Utah Waves & Architected Materials

The group expertise lies at the multi-disciplinary intersection joining mechanics of materials, computational methods, acoustics and vibrations. Our studies focus on the design of artificially structured materials for wave manipulation. These functional composites are commonly referred to as phononic crystals and acoustic metamaterials  – systems with unconventional dynamic properties emerging from their micro-structures instead of their constituent materials. A central theme in this field is the emergence of acoustic/phononic band gaps – a range of frequency in which the propagation of elastic wave is suppressed.

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Roseanne Warren
Lab – Advanced Energy Innovations

The mission of our group is to pioneer new nanoscale manufacturing methods that will improve the future of society. Our two primary areas of focus are: 1) electrochemical energy storage devices (batteries & supercapacitors), and 2) micro/nanofluidic technologies for manufacturing and human health applications.

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