Improved Force Sensing on Nano-Manipulated Objects



Efficient manipulation of nano-sized objects will require an effective means for sensing the force exerted by a nanoprobe on the object. Current PZT (lead zirconium titante)-based piezoelectric force sensors are limited in their sensitivity.


Description of Technology


By using a highly sensitive polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) piezoelectric force sensor to measure contact force and its rate of change, the invention promises an advancement in micromanipulation and microassembly technology. PVDF has excellent sensitivity and better dynamic properties than PZT, providing output voltages ten times higher than PZT for the same applied force. One can control the force exerted on nanoscale objects/devices during the micoassembly and micromanipulation process by adjusting the voltage applied to the PVDF sensor, thereby actively directing the micromanipulation and microassembly process.


Key Benefits

  • Improved force sensing by AFM probe: The use of PVDF as a piezoelectric material provides the ability to sense contact force on the probe in real time with high sensitivity.
  • Higher voltage output for PVDF: The voltage output is higher than for piezo ceramics or PZT by a factor of 10, making PVDF an ideal piezoelectric for rate-of-force sensing.
  • Reduced time to manipulate objects: The invention has the potential for accelerating the development of automated manufacturing processes for batch assembly of micro devices.
  • Increased ability to perform complex manipulations on biological cells: Possible uses in complex microbiology procedures such as cloning. 
  • Improved yields of desired products: This could make batch fabrication and assembly of microelectromechanical (MEMS) systems a reality.




Manufacturing of nano-scale devices and microbiology research.


Patent Status


US 7134349 (issued Nov 14, 2006)




Ning Xi, Yantao Shen, Fathi Salem


Tech ID




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Raymond Devito
Technology Manager
Michigan State University