At theUniversity of Delft, a team of scientists designed a microchip sensor extremely precise. The instrument has the ability to operate at room temperature. For the quantum technologies, for example, this characteristic is important. In addition, the researchers also succeeded in making the instrument vibrate by keeping it almost isolated from outside noise. To get there, they allied the nanotechnology and machine learning.
Most importantly, however, the researchers who designed the sensor were inspired by spiderweb. Thus, scientists were able to study vibrating objects on the smallest scale. To do this, they had to prevent ambient thermal noise from affecting the objects to be examined.
The researchers published their work in the Rising Stars number of Advanced Materials the 25 October 2021. The nanomechanical sensor they have developed opens up many avenues for technology, such as quantum detection and the navigation.
Nature, a great source of inspiration
Richard Norte participated in the research and is the one who had thespider web idea. According to him, the prospect came to him when he noticed many cobwebs on his terrace. Richard then remembered that these structures areexcellent vibration detectors. The point is that spiders manage to measure vibrations inside of its web to detect their prey. Yet the external vibrations, like the wind, do not affect the canvas.
Despite this brilliant idea, researchers had no knowledge of these spider constructions. So they decided to use a artificial intelligence.
“We knew that experiments and simulations were expensive and time consuming, so with my group we decided to use an algorithm called Bayesian optimization, to find a good design with little testing. “
From a spider’s web to the key to technological evolution
The team was particularly surprised when the algorithm proposed a relatively simple canvas. Among the 150 structures, the algorithm suggested a construction with only six sons arranged in a surprisingly simple way. After having verified the effectiveness of this new design via a computer simulation, the scientists continued.
The first author Andrea Cupertino designed a microchip sensor with an extremely thin film. Its thickness is lnanometer order and he chose a ceramic material called silicon nitride. The result would be extraordinary, because the conservation of energy by the system is exceptional.
“It’s like giving someone a single push on a swing, and swinging for almost a century without stopping. “