Nanomaterials, Nanofluidics, and Smart Systems

Head : Aurélien Bancaud
Secretary : Elena Strat

News: PhD Defenses, HDR Defenses
Seminars announcement

 

Science : Technologies : Systems : Society

 Multiscale research

 

Our staff brings together theorists and experimentalists skilled in physics, biophysics, materials science, fluidics and technology at the micro and nano-levels jointly with circuits/systems researchers.

  • RESEARCH GOAL

NanoEngineering & Integration research spans a broad set of activities aiming at developing theoretical, experimental and technological tools for the manipulation, manufacturing, understanding and modeling of complex multi-scale systems of  different natures: Molecule, Solid state material, Fluid, DNA, Cells, Sensors and Systems. Specifically, NEI has a special mission: to foster collaborative, interdisciplinary research in the science and nanoengineering to address the future needs of   society, especially: Health, Society well-fare, Environment and Security (frail persons, goods and structures).
A common framework of our research aims to link fundamental understanding to smart system demonstrators deployment with strong connections to applications. Particularly, in 2014/2015, we tackled societal challenges in health/biology (cancer), aging population, sportive monitoring, water quality, security and pyroSystems.

 

  • RESEARCH AREAS & RESEARCH TOPICS

Research in the theme is divided into 3 key areas and current research projects fall into 10 Research Topics.

  • APPLICATIONS

    • Quality of water
    • Elderly, Frailty Monitoring
    • Domotic
    • Toxicology
    • Ignitor &Fusing systems
    • Structural Health Monitoring for aeronautics & civil

 

Atomistic scale modeling & simulation

 

  • Modelling of Biomolecules and their Interactions – contact : mbrut@laas.fr

We design new simulation tools dedicated to the prediction of biomolecular structure/activity, both for biological and technological purposes. The long term goal of our research is to be able to use computers to run in silico experiments to facilitate the design of therapies and the integration of biomolecules in nanotechnologies. Among our specific areas of research, we focus on i) structural flexibility of biomolecules and induced-fit mechanisms and ii) predictive physical models for bio-hybrid materials and devices. Our projects are always built in close collaboration with experimental partners. Our strength, which is to conjugate the use of traditional simulation tools and the development of dedicated approaches, allows us to propose original and custom methodologies and solutions.

More specifically, our recent simulations are based on:

- DNA properties, DNA being envisaged as a biological material for biology (study of DNA internal flexibility and interaction with histones in the nucleosome), but also for as a material technology (design of aptamers and molecular beacons for biological detection) 

- Ras oncoproteins, with the development of an in silico screening of mutation (exploration of Ras biomechanical properties at atomic level, simulation of the GTPase activity vs somatic mutations, design of new mutants with a restored function for new therapeutic strategies)

 

We help to acquire a fundamental understanding about the interfaces formation between integrated materials encountered in microelectronics field using massive simulations and multi-levels approach. The first objective is to establish the link between the nanostructuration of materials and their engineering as a function of the technological process. For instance, final performances are highly dependent of interfacial layers in terms of composition, thickness, in multilayered energetic materials. Our approach is thus driven to answer fundamental questions relative to the identification and characterization of the mechanisms involved in the formation of oxide layers and particularly on the growth mechanistic events. The ambition here is to push forward nano-scale material fabrication toward atomic scale precise technology by proposing predictive atomic scale modeling of the deposition process, and providing a fundamental description on how they are achieved. We also focus on the defects that could appear throughout the achieved material during deposition or operation, with the aim to inform in details on the impact of local structures on the electronic properties of materials.

We combine multi-level modelling skills through the establishment of a set of home-made and commercial tools to perform intensive calculations and simulations at the atomic scale from the atom to the modelling of the technological process. This approach is achieved by the setting up of a numerical simulation platform (TCAD type) for nanotechnology to help engineers to conduct parametric studies to guide their technology choices and improve processing and the properties of the oxides.

 

Micro and Nano-Bio-Engineering

 

We tackle nanoengineering of flows at three levels ranging from technology and flow understanding to the development of functional devices:

  • Technologies for nanofluidics: we develop silicon and polymer-based fabrication technology for nanofluidics. We demonstrated for example the fabrication of nanochannels at wafer scale with a simple method, based on phase shift lithography, and we are currently developping methods to obtain nanochannels with varying depth thanks to grey-scale lithography.
  • Nanoscale flow understanding: we characterize flows inside model fabricated nanochannels to mimic nanovectors transfer to tumor, or flows in porous media. For instance we characterize polymersomes (self-assembled polymeric nano-objects) behavior at a micro-nanofluidic junction, and we measure capillary filling, evaporation and cristallization in 20-100 nm deep channels. We are also developing flow metrology, based on the distribution of nanoparticles’ velocity within µm-sized channels.
  • Functional devices (lab-on-chips) based on the microfluidic handling of micro- and nano-objects. We have used self-organized arrays of microbubbles for photonics and we now manipulate bacteria inside microdroplets to screen antibioresistance; we develop devices able to sort sub-µm particles, in the context of environmental sensors; and we work at sorting and concentrating biomolecules to develop biomarkers detection for early diagnostics of cancers (pancreas and multiple myeloma).

 

Our overall objective is to enable new lab-on-chip platform, propose new manufacturing processes and explore new applications by exploiting our technological know-how acquired through the last two decades especially on multi-layered SU8 microstructuration and Si and Glass/PDMS structuration. Our contribution is application driven and has led to the development and demonstration of new concepts of integrated microfluidic devices for bio-chemical sensing applications. Some key innovations lie in the exploration of RF and magnetic field within microfluidic devices to sense and actuate, respectively.

The development of technologies, which improve or extend the performances DNA sequencing or DNA microarray, is expected to have considerable impact for personalized diagnostics, i.e. the administration of tailored drug regimen based on patient's own molecular information. In addition DNA was shown to be a unique material for physics and nanofabrication, which can be engineered at the atomic level to perform biophysical researches and/or accomplish technological processes with exquisite precision. Convinced by the potential of this molecule at the nexus of technology and biology, we develop new fluidic systems dedicated to the analysis of DNA in vivo and in vitro as well as for DNA-based biosensing. We have been focusing on three main objectives:

  • Develop aptamer-based sensors targeting thrombin, which is one key protein in homeostasis regulating both pro and anticoagulant blood activities. Aptamers are short single stranded DNA molecules (15-30 bases) with high affinity to desired targets based on their specific folding properties. They have been chosen for their performances, versaticle chemical modifications, and facile supply, which make them ideal candidates as sensing elements.
  • Conceive micro- and nano-fluidic devices for DNA separation, concentration, and structural analysis. Our quest is to improve the performances of current technologies for DNA analytics by gaining time on the analysis and throughput in the readout dynamics.
  • Study genomic DNA structure and dynamics in living yeast with novel tools based on optics and microfluidics. Our thrust is to provide a physical description of the genome structural properties.

 

The idea to design and nano engineer materials and devices using DNA synthetic strands is really a new form of thinking and a new technology era possibility. One concrete current example is the assembly of nanoparticles of Al and CuO to produce heat-generating materials. One key issue to bring DNA nanotechnologies to maturity is to propose new solutions for enabling and controlling the grafting of DNA on technologically relevant surfaces beyond the state of the art. Atomic scale modelling, advanced experiment and technological effort is combined to establish a fundamental understanding of DNA/surfaces interactions and to propose new reliable technological solutions.

 

Smart Systems Engineering and Multifunctional Integration

 

Our work focuses on learning of walking behavior (smart shoe insole), fall detection (patch worn on the back), changes in physical activity or behavior. These works has allowed us to contribute to the achievement of the ADREAM apartment-lab for technical development and “Maison intelligente de Blagnac” dedicated to trials in real use conditions and education. We demonstrate that the miniaturization as a flexible patch or object worn by humans allows better transduction phenomena and data near the variable to be measured. The methods are based on learning behaviors of lifes and sudden changes. Many demonstrations were carried out in close collaboration with institutions and inustrial partners. Major results are HOMECARE, SACHA and RESPECT projects with prototypes experimented in real sites.

 

  • Smart sensing and distributed instrumentation for Structural Health Monitoring - Contact: fourniols@laas.fr

The systems studied are divided into two families :

  • organic in the sense that the system is the Human and paradoxically the elderly or high-level sports
  • inorganic where we focus on systems aging analysis built around composites

In both cases, the challenge is a technological first because the instrumentation must not modify the interaction of the system with its environment, sensors and actuators that we build must be non-invasive and therefore flexible and highly miniaturized.

  • Importantly, our contribution is application driven and has led to the development and demonstration above or inside the structures in 2 fields of application, in close link with industries:
  • Smart Sensing oriented PHM to provide aircraft composite structures safety and reliability based on the implementation of smart networks of piezo sensors glued above the composite structure able to analyze both echoes of guided waves and electromechanical impedance variation. This approach has been transferred to AIRBUS and RATIER companies.
  • SHM for civil engineering with the development of an innovative in-situ distributed monitoring solution based on a composite thin multilayer and multi sensor structure [temperature and deformation] analysis.
  • Home automation applications: we develop smart sensors and data sensors fusion, versatile architectures dedicated to embedded algorithms built on learning the habits of people to propose new solutions for smart home (protection and energy management)

 

  • Smart Textile and Wearable Electronics for Athletes Monitoring - Contact: gsotorom@laas.fr