Department of Mechanical Engineering

Brigham Young University 

Provo, UT 84602

(801) 422-2625

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Clean sweep! ME students win first, second, and third


Two students from BYU’s Mechanical Engineering Department made a clean sweep at the ASME Micro-and Nanosystems Photo Contest. Walter Fazio won 1st and 3rd places, and Greg Holst won 2nd place. The contest was held as part of the annual ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems held in Montreal, Canada, from August 15-18, 2010.

Students who wish to enter this contest send their photos to the contest organizer, who chooses several to be finalists. The finalists then display their photos throughout the conference, and conference attendees all have an opportunity to vote for their favorite photo. Awards are then given to the top three photos. Fazio, a Master’s student, won 1st place for his photo “Silicon-Coated Carbon Nanotube MEMS Structure,” and 3rd place for “Carbon Nanotube MEMS Structure—Hub-and-Spoke Test Pattern.” Holst, also a Master’s student, received 2nd place for his “Thermomechanical Microactuator in Motion.”

“This photo shows a detail view of a structure that has been filled with silicon using vapor deposition,” stated Fazio, referring to his winning photo. “However, the filling—at least on this part of the structure—is incomplete, leaving significant voids between the worm-like coated nanotubes. “

Holst’s 2nd place photo is of the end of a thermomechanical microactuator, next to a ruler, which shows the ~12 microns of displacement as it moves in a scanning electron microscope (SEM). “The end of the actuator is flat, but this image shows the edge as curved,” commented Holst. “This is due to the scanning characteristic of the microscope. As the SEM scans from top to bottom, the time vs. position of the flat edge is recorded as a curve. Since the actuator relies on a heating and cooling process, the Newton heating and cooling curves are captured in this image as the current to the actuator is turned on and off.”

Fazio’s 3rd place photo is of a carbon nanotube (CNT) forest. “CNT forests can be grown to specification on a solid substrate coated with a thin iron layer in the desired form,” said Fazio. “With the right iron layer thickness and under the right growth conditions, such forests can grow hundreds of microns tall while maintaining vertical walls and uniform height.” This particular spoked wheel pattern was developed to help determine the ideal iron layer thickness for high-quality CNT growth. This photo shows the quality of the growth, evident in the vertical walls and relatively flat top.

“This contest really plays to one of our strengths,” commented Dr. Brian Jensen, faculty advisor to both Fazio and Holst. “For the past several years, our research group has produced an annual calendar showcasing some of our most interesting images from our work in micromachines. Hence, the students are encouraged to regularly take high-quality, interesting photos of their work. For the contest, Greg and Walter simply reviewed the images they had taken for the calendar and submitted their favorites.”