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Smart Materials

Micro4Nano bio and human interface MEMS

The micro4nano bio and human interface MEMS research activity can be considered as an exploitation of the concepts and devices developed in the other research activities of Smart Materials Platform in a very challenging application.
The examples have been chosen to demonstrate the usefulness of the proposed concepts not only on space humanoid robotics but also on other aspects of automation for space missions and activities.

In particular the research is aimed at the development of a MEMS platform for the study of two main aspects related to human and robotic operation in space. The first one is the human machine interface intended as a deep integration of sensing and actuation functions for manned robots operation. The second is related to the effects of space environment (microgravity, cosmic rays, …) on cells, tissues and on the overall astronaut physiology.
A deeper understanding of the biological aspects of space environment seems to be of crucial importance for human space exploration and for novel forms of bio-robots integrating biological materials and electronics-mechanics components.

MEMS tools for Micro4Nano Lab

In nanotechnology the self-assembly techniques are very important in device realization and can be used to produce devices for several application domains, offering solutions for sensing, actuation, computation and energy. Among all the application domains, Space Human Robotics domain will receive the main focus, specifically for sensing and actuating.

In particular two different kind of MEMS based on self-assembled nanomaterials will be demonstrated: nanogaps and piezo-nanorods. This approach can be applied to many nanotechnological materials, where it is necessary to develop, in a specific area, reactions or structures at nanoscale.

We assume that nanodevices (either sensors or actuators) cannot be separated from hosting microstructures for signal conditioning and/or control, both in the study phases both in their exploitation.

Micro4Nano Lab

The objective of Micro4Nano Lab is to develop new specific equipment for embedding nano tech materials inside MEMS and microstructures suitable for space applications.

According to lab experience there are very few solutions and equipment to implement such a kind of activities, normally conducted in customized way upon research and engineered results have been precisely assessed. Furthermore these activities are mainly achieved using conventional microtechnology equipment, while nano materials, and their related processing, demand dedicated equipment and specific operating conditions.

Space sensor and actuator devices and in general extra-vehicular SHR devoted parts need specific testing conditions, that can be (excluding microgravity) simulated inside “ad hoc” vacuum chamber.

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