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Sensors are becoming ubiquitous in our lives and possible applications are countless. Micro and nanotechnologies are the natural choice for enabling complex sensor nodes, as they are small (thus unobtrusive), cheap and low power. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are a perfect example of how nanosystems offer features unachievable with microsystems: their outstanding structural, mechanical and electronic properties have immediately resulted in numerous device demonstrators from transistors, to physical and chemical sensors, and actuators. A key idea of the project is to combine elements from the fundamental knowledge base on the physics of carbon nanotubes, gathered in the past several years, and the fundamental engineering sciences in the area of micro/nano-electromechanical systems, to develop novel devices and processes based on CNTs.
Specificaly, it seeks to demonstrate concepts and devices for ultra-low power, highly miniaturized functional blocks for sensing and electronics. Due to their small mass and high stiffness, doubly clamped CNTs can exhibit huge resonant frequencies. These are carbon nanotube resonators which, as recently demonstrated or predicted theoretically, can reach the multi-GHz range, can be tuned via straining over a wide range of frequency, offer an unprecedented sensitivity to strain or mass loading, exhibit high quality factors, and all these with a very low power consumption.