Regional project: NanoMEMS-X - www.nanomems-x.eu

NANOMEMS-X is an industrial research project presented by IMAMOTER – C.N.R. and approved on the “Call for strategic industrial research projects aimed at the priority areas of the smart specialization strategy” (DGR 774/2015) within the POR FESR EMILIA-ROMAGNA 2014/2020 Axis 1 Action 1.2.2

The project involves the development of new concept Strain sensors with high sensitivity and a wider measuring range, which allow the creation of innovative applications, capable of giving a competitive advantage to both manufacturers of components in the mechatronics sector and machine builders.

E.S.T.E. srl is the company designated for the development of part of the project in collaboration with MIST E-R and IMAMOTER CNR.

These sensors will be realized using two different technologies, one MEMS type and the other based on elastic nanocomposites, in order to reach a high number of applications. The innovation and the functional principles of the components, allow on one hand to create sensors with high sensitivity and on the other to obtain products covered by worldwide patents (therefore not producible for traditional technologies). The project involves the application of Strain Sensors on rigid supports for the realization of sensors of stress, deformation, force, torque and pressure on mechanical devices, in positions where traditional technologies would be null. These devices will be also used to create non-invasive pressure sensors, meaning they don’t require a direct contact with the fluid, giving space to a new class of smart components in the hydraulic system, that finds its excellence in Emilia Romagna region.

Strain elastic sensors based on conductive nanocomposite materials (CTPE), obtained by micro-extrusion, will be used to measure fluid pressure in hoses, for the production of tactile systems to be integrated directly on operator commands or to monitor the status of tires. These devices consist of very low-cost material (4 cents / gr.) and allow to build external systems that will be applied on previous existing systems. All the sensors will be realized with a digital electronic system, able to supply both information in analog format and communication networks used in the machines.

Aims

1 - Fabrication of a prototype strain sensor for measurement of the strain applied on a mechanical structure. Fabrication of a MEMS strain sensor equipped with conditioning and read-out electronics, applicable to mechanical arms, metal structures, etc., designed to read local deformation and measure the force applied on the arm. The prototype will have the competitive advantage of having high sensitivity and therefore more freedom in positioning on structures and systems and of not being covered by existing patents. Inserting the sensor in a pin will make it unnecessary to have through holes in the pin, thus keeping its resistance to loads intact.

2 - Fabrication of a prototype Strain sensor for measurement of hydraulic pressure on a duct. Thanks to the high sensitivity of MEMS sensors to deformation, the prototype enables pressure sensing in (rigid) metal ducts in a non-invasive way, based on duct deformation only.

3 - Fabrication of a prototype CTPE sensor for measurement of hydraulic pressure on flexible ducts for measurement of pressure in fixed and mobile hydraulic systems. The prototype will show the excellent adaptability of CTPE sensors, which enable pressure sensing in (flexible) rubber ducts, thanks to their ability to detect the deformation caused by pressure. Tests for ageing and possible alterations due to the high temperatures involved will be evaluated to apply to the sensing system an additional passivation layer that will further isolate the devices.

4 - Fabrication of a prototype formed by a combination of (CTPE) conductive material tactile sensors. A functional prototype of sensors applied to a steering wheel will be built for real-time monitoring of the position of hands and the detection of the force exerted by the driver. This system may be used to check whether the driver is present and to detect driver’s illness or unconsciousness.

Examples of application

Checking the status of an industrial pump

Pressure ripple in a gear pump

Non-invasive Pressure measurement

Profiling of the movement of a shoe.

Profiling of the compression and movement of a wheel.