Regional project: nanoMEMS-X

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

The project concerns the realisation of new, high sensitivity Strain sensors with a broader range of measurement, which will allow for the creation of innovative applications capable of giving a competitive advantage to both machine manufacturers and mechatronic component manufacturers.

E.S.T.E. srl has been designated to develop a part of the project in collaboration with MIST E-R and IMAMOTER CNR.


In order to cover a wide range of applications, these sensors will be made using two different technologies, one of a MEMS type, and the other based on elastic nanocomposites. The innovative nature of the components and their functional principles allow for the creation of highly sensitive sensors, as well as the development of products that cannot be manufactured using traditional technologies, as they’re all covered by worldwide patents. The project entails the application of Strain Sensors to rigid supports for the realisation of stress, strain, force, torque and pressure sensors on mechanical equipment, in positions where traditional technologies would not be able to be utilised. The same devices will be used to create non-invasive pressure sensors, or rather sensors that do not require direct contact with the fluid, resulting in a new class of smart components for the hydraulics sector, in which the Emilia Romagna region boasts considerable expertise.

Elastic sensors

Elastic strain sensors based on conductive nanocomposite materials (CTPE), obtained by micro-extrusion, will be used to measure the pressure of fluids contained in flexible hoses, to manufacture tactile systems to be installed directly on operator controls, or to monitor the status of pneumatic tyres. These devices are made from extremely low cost material (4 cents/g.), and allow for the creation of external systems that can even be applied to existing installations. All the sensors will be made using digital electronics capable of providing information both in analogue format and through the communication networks used on the machines.



1 – Creation of a Strain sensor prototype for measuring the stress applied to a mechanical structure. Creation of a MEMS Strain sensor, equipped with conditioning and reading electronics, that can be applied to mechanical arms, metallic structures, etc., and is capable of reading the local deformation behaviour and measuring the force applied to the arm. The prototype will have the competitive advantages of being highly sensitive, for greater freedom of positioning on structures and systems, and of not being covered by any existing patents. If inserted within a pin, the sensor eliminates the need to make through-holes in the pin, thus keeping its load-bearing capacity intact.

2 – Creation of a Strain sensor prototype for measuring the water pressure in a pipe. Since MEMS sensors are highly sensitive to deformation, this prototype is capable of sensing the pressure inside metal (rigid) pipes in a non-invasive manner, by measuring the deformation of the pipe alone.

3 – Creation of a CTPE sensor prototype for the measurement of hydraulic pressure in flexible hoses, for the measurement of pressure in fixed and mobile hydraulic systems. The prototype will demonstrate the extreme adaptability of CTPE sensors, which allow for the sensing of the pressure inside flexible rubber hoses, as they are capable of detecting the hose’s deformation due to the pressure itself. Ageing tests and tests for possible alterations due to the high temperatures involved will be evaluated in order to add an additional passivation layer to the sensing system that will further isolate the devices.

4 – Creation of a prototype consisting of a set of tactile sensors made from conductive material (CTPE). A working prototype of sensors will be created and applied to a steering wheel in order to monitor the real-time positioning of the driver’s hands and measure the force exerted by the same. This system can be used to verify the driver’s presence and detect any states of malaise or unconsciousness.

Examples of use

Checking the status of an industrial pump


Changing the pressure in a gear pump


Non-invasive pressure measurement