TNO and TU Delft are developing a scanning probe microscope that measures the changes in heat flux between the sensor and the sample to get information on the surface topography and surface properties. At the heart of this microscope is a tiny bilayer cantilever that does the actual sensing (see figure 1).
The cantilever deflects, because the two layers expand at different rates upon heating. Unfortunately, a simple cantilever cannot meet the competing requirements of sensitivity, manufacturability and response time under the existing manufacturing induced flaws.
For example, residual stresses introduced in the production process can cause the cantilever to bend out of plane once it is released (see Figure 2). This curvature can be so severe, that the cantilever bends back on top of itself, rendering it completely useless.
You will be using (topology) optimization strategies to design new sensor types that:
1. Are as sensitive or more sensitive than the current cantilevers;
2. Suffer less from manufacturing induced flaws;
3. Respond significantly faster.