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Micro-dragonflies and microvalves make mark at annual MEMS student design contest
Date:6/30/2011

ps its wings in the vertical direction, rather than back-and-forth or in a rotary motion," said Texas Tech student Sahil Oak. "The vertical motion of the large wings in our design not only provides greater surface area for lift than most flying insects but the wings cool faster, enabling faster flapping."

The work was supervised by TTU faculty advisor Tim Dallas.

Texas Tech students won in the novel design category for their MEMS-based dragonfly design. (Image courtesy of Texas Tech University) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

Carnegie Mellon student design for a MEMS-based electrostatically operated microvalve won in the educational category. (Image courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

Valves are the largely under appreciated method by which advanced technical societies control the flow of fluids. Commonly, their motions are screw-based like a shower, kitchen sink or garden hose bib, or they are switch-based, using a ball and flapper valves like most toilets, heart valve prostheses and ink-jet printers. The winning project from Carnegie Mellon featured a micro-switch-based valve that makes possible very fine control over tiny amounts of liquid flow. This valve requires only picoJoules of energy to switch its state. The test module the students designed will help determine characteristics that would create the most efficient and lowest leakage microvalves on Earth. They ultimately may enable the creation of tiny, flow-through microvalves for experiments in biological research laboratories and in medical facilities seeking to quickly analyze a patient's medical state from tiny fluid samples.

"One of the most common types of microvalves is electrostatically operated, which is the model for our design," says Carnegie Mellon student research lead Vitali Brand. "The best microvalves are useful in certain fuel cell designs and in microengines because they can close or o
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Contact: neal singer
nsinger@sandia.gov
505-845-7078
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories
Source:Eurekalert

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