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News Archive 2001 - 2010

$374K Grant Funds Research on Miniature Manufacturing Processes

November 1, 2004

University of Texas at Arlington Electrical Engineering Professor J. C. Chiao has received a $374,211 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate miniaturized millimeter-wave systems. He and Dr. L.W. Lin in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California - Berkeley are jointly working on innovative processes toward low-cost, batch-fabricated, miniaturized and integrated millimeter-wave systems for sensing, imaging and communication applications.

Their project, “Manufacturing and Integration of Millimeter-wave Sensing Systems,” will receive a total of $750,000. The funding and aspects of the project will be split between the universities; design and system integration will be done at UTA and fabrication at UC-Berkeley. “Plastic molding and embossing techniques have been widely used, but they have not been applied to the manufacturing of high frequency systems,” said Dr. Chiao. “We are taking a mature plastic molding technology to a not-widely-used application to make millimeter-wave systems cheap enough to be widely used.”

The miniature systems are three-dimensional radio-frequency structures that include antennas, waveguides and passive components. To produce the systems efficiently, Drs. Chiao and Lin will create several micro-manufacturing process modules, including plastic molding, embossing, mechanical polishing, assembly and bonding processes in a batch fashion.

The resulting low-cost, high-power millimeter-wave systems could be utilized in a wide range of novel sensing applications such as vision goggles that assist firefighters to see through smoke, mobile radars that enhance safety in foggy weather for automobiles and airplanes, chemical and biological agent detection by spectrometry, and portable broadband communication systems.

This new micro-manufacturing processes will benefit the general microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) community to inspire new device development.