Past Awardee

Cyber Tools for Multiscale Analysis of Electrostatic NEMS

N. R. Aluru

College: Engineering
Award year: 2006-2007

Nanoscale sensors, actuators, devices and systems, collectively referred to as Nanoelectromechanical Systems (NEMS), find a number of applications in computing, communications, information technology, aerospace, medical, health, defense and other important sectors. Some recent applications of NEMS include: sensing of individual cells, proteins, DNA and biomolecules; low power switches; nanomechanical resonators for ultra-sensitive detection of adsorbed mass; radio frequency devices for computing; nanotweezers; nanorelay; ultra high data storage and other devices.

Achieving the promise of NEMS involves more than simply scaling down MEMS; new physical phenomena associated with surfaces, interfaces, and atomic scales must be understood. Computational design tools will play a critical role in the design and development of NEMS. The development of computational design tools for NEMS can be challenging due to the presence of nanoscale features. The nanoscale features can be resolved by using atomistic approaches instead of continuum approaches. The use of atomistic approaches in a design environment can be expensive and prohibitive. To overcome this limitation, as part of this NCSA proposal, we plan to develop seamless multiscale methods that directly incorporate atomistic features into continuum theories.

The objectives of this proposal are two-fold: First, is to develop very efficient multi-scale simulation tools to characterize the behavior of NEM devices. The second objective is to make the multiscale simulation tools available on the cyber-environment, so the entire nanotechnology community can use these resources. Multiscale modeling of nanoelectromechanical systems will focus on self-consistent analysis of the coupled electrostatic and mechanical energy domains. The electrostatic forces acting on nanomechanical structures will be computed by employing hierarchical physical theories ranging from the more detailed quantum-mechanical to semi-classical to less detailed classical theories. In addition, the hierarchical physical theories will be combined by a multi-scale approach to accurately and efficiently predict the electrostatic forces acting on nanostructures. The deformation of the nanostructures due to electrostatic forces will be computed by employing a particle quasi-continuum based finite temperature multi-scale approach. As part of the proposed research, we also plan to create a cyber-infrastructure environment for NEMS. Specifically, the multiscale analysis software will be made available on the web to create a cyber-infrastructure for NEMS. We will also develop appropriate educational tools and learning modules, so the users can use the NEMS simulation tools with little difficulty. Our proposed research on "cyber-tools for multiscale analysis of NEMS" will benefit tremendously from NCSA collaborations and facilities. Some of the planned activities include collaborations with NCSA faculty and staff.