Conductive and Magnetic Polymer Nanocomposite Materials:
Preparation, Micropatterning, and Applications to Sensors, Microfluidics and MEMS/NEMS

This tutorial will present an introduction to conductive and magnetic polymer nanocomposite materials as applied to cutting-edge applications in micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS), sensors, and microfluidics. Conductive and magnetic composite polymers are realized by rendering their base polymers functional through the introduction of filler micro- and/or nano- particles with particular characteristics.

The resulting composite polymer materials are compatible with structures fabricated in their base polymers, can be nano- and micro- patterned using similar processing techniques, yet have unique properties imparted by the nanoparticles embedded within them. Composite polymer-based devices can also be fabricated with high mechanical flexibility, which can be advantageous for high stroke, high force actuation, or for overall system flexibility for wearable or implantable biomedical microsystems.

Composite polymers are employed to realize many different sensors, microfluidic and MEMS/NEMS devices, including electrodes, electronic routing, heaters, mixers, valves, pumps, sensors, and interconnect structures. These devices can be fabricated on-chip or in a small packages together with other polymer and non-polymer microstructures, thus greatly increasing the functionality, portability and flexibility of such systems. The tutorial will cover the basics of how conductive and magnetic nanocomposite polymers obtain their unique characteristics; particle and polymer selection; and the preparation, micropatterning, and applications of nanocomposite polymers to sensors, MEMS/NEMS, and microfluidics.