Ahmed Alfadhel, a Ph.D. student of Electrical Engineering in the Computer Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering division and under the supervision of Prof. Jurgen Kosel received the best student paper award at the IEEE Sensors Applications Symposium 2015. In his paper "Magnetic Micropillar Sensors for Force Sensing", he presents a bioinspired force sensor that utilizes artificial cilia to achieve high sensitivity with ultra-low power consumption.
The cilia are made of a magnetic nanocomposite, which Ahmed fabricates from polydimethylsiloxane and iron nanowires which are both biocompatible. The nanowires make the cilia permanent magnetic without compromising their elasticity. Any force that bends the cilia changes the magnetic field, which is detected by a sensor underneath the cilia.
This new sensor is very promising for tactile sensing applications like artificial skins, prosthesis or robots.