Development of Micromachined Probes for Bio-Nano Applications



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The most commonly known macro scale probing devices are simply comprised of metallic leads used for measuring electrical signals. On the other hand, micromachined probing devices are realized using microfabrication techniques and are capable of providing very fine, micro/nano scale interaction with matter; along with a broad range of applications made possible by incorporating MEMS sensing and actuation techniques. Micromachined probes consist of a well-defined tip structure that determines the interaction space, and a transduction mechanism that could be used for sensing a change, imparting external stimuli or manipulating matter. Several micromachined probes intended for biological and nanotechnology applications were fabricated, characterized and tested. Probes were developed under two major categories. The first category consists of Micro Electromagnetic Probes for biological applications such as single cell, particle, droplet manipulation and neuron stimulation applications; whereas the second category targets novel Scanning Probe topologies suitable for direct nanopatterning, variable resolution scanning probe/dip-pen nanolithography, and biomechanics applications. The functionality and versatility of micromachined probes for a broad range of micro and nanotechnology applications is successfully demonstrated throughout the five different probes/applications that were studied. It is believed that, the unique advantages of precise positioning capability, confinement of interaction as determined by the probe tip geometry, and special sensor/actuator mechanisms incorporated through MEMS technologies will render micromachined probes as indispensable tools for microsystems and nanotechnology studies.