An e-fab way for making the micro world

September 01, 1999

A new manufacturing technique that has produced what researchers believe is the world's narrowest chain could open a whole world of new micro-mechanical devices. The technique, known as EFAB (electrochemical fabrication), is much faster and quicker than other microfabrication techniques, allowing the research team to manufacture new devices at a fraction of the cost but more complex than ever before.

EFAB, being developed by researchers at The University of Southern California (USC) and the Information Sciences Institute (ISI), works by building up layers of a material to form the shape of the component being constructed. The success of the technique is mainly thanks to the development of an 'Instant Masking' process developed at USC. A 'mask' is pressed onto the surface of a prepared substrate allowing so-called 'sacrificial' materials to be electro-deposited. The mask is removed and the gaps are filled in with structural material to form the pattern of the mask. The layer of materials is planed down to as thin as 1 micrometre, according to the researchers, and the process can then be run again.

The EFAB process can be repeated to form multi-layer three dimensional (3D) complex mechanical devices. "The [devices] we are looking at seriously [include] microcombustion based generators, smaller than a shirt button, that will generate electric power by burning hydrocarbon fuels", says EFAB project leader Adam Cohen. "These promise about 10 times the performance of the best batteries, on an energy per weight basis", says Cohen. Other uses for EFAB technology include the manufacture of coronary stents, the devices used to help keep arteries open. These could be manufactured for less than 5 dollars compared to tens of dollars using traditional techniques.

Notes For Editors
  • This item is due to appear as "An e-fab way for making the micro world" by Dr Steve Hill in the September issue of Materials World, Volume 7, Issue 9, page 538.
  • Materials World is the journal of The Institute of Materials, the professional organisation of materials scientists, engineers and technicians working throughout the world in areas involving the use and application of plastics, rubber, metals, composites and ceramics.
  • Brief contents of Materials World are also available on the web:
  • The views and opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Materials World, IoM Communications or any other organisation with which they are associated.

    Institute of Materials

    Related Microfabrication Techniques Articles from Brightsurf:

    New techniques probe vital and elusive proteins
    Researchers at the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and ASU's School of Molecular Sciences, along with their colleagues, investigate a critically important class of proteins, which adorn the outer membranes of cells.

    When bots do the negotiating, humans more likely to engage in deceptive techniques
    Researchers found that whether humans would embrace a range of deceptive and sneaky negotiating techniques was dependent both on the humans' prior negotiating experience in negotiating as well as whether virtual agents where employed to negotiate on their behalf.

    'Different techniques needed' to detect fingermarks on new banknotes
    Techniques used to detect fingermarks on traditional cotton banknotes are not effective on Scottish banks' new polymer notes and different methods are required, according to a study by University of Strathclyde researchers.

    AI techniques in medical imaging may lead to incorrect diagnoses
    Machine learning and AI are highly unstable in medical image reconstruction, and may lead to false positives and false negatives, a new study suggests.

    Animated videos advance adoption of agriculture techniques
    In remote areas with low literacy rates, showing animated videos in the local language demonstrating agricultural techniques results in high retention and adoption rates of those techniques, found researchers from Michigan State University.

    Ultrasound techniques give warning signs of preterm births
    Ultrasound can be used to examine cervix tissue and improve diagnostics, which is essential for predicting preterm births, and ultrasound data is used to compare two techniques for evaluating changes in cervical tissue throughout pregnancy.

    Heating techniques could improve treatment of macular degeneration
    Age-related macular degeneration is the primary cause of central vision loss and results in the center of the visual field being blurred or fully blacked out.

    Training for Title IX investigators lacks tested, effective techniques
    Interviews are the central component of any Title IX investigation, but new research finds the techniques investigators are using may not be the most effective.

    Science reveals improvements in Roman building techniques
    In research published in EPJ Plus, researchers have carried out scientific analysis of the materials used to build the Atrium Vestae in Rome.

    Combination of techniques could improve security for IoT devices
    A multi-pronged data analysis approach that can strengthen the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices -- such as smart TVs, home video cameras and baby monitors -- against current risks and threats has been created by a team of Penn State World Campus students.

    Read More: Microfabrication Techniques News and Microfabrication Techniques Current Events
  • is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to