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Kaigham Gabriel
Distinguished Service Professor, RI
No longer a member of RI.
Research Interests

As information systems increasingly leave fixed locations and appear in our pockets and palms, they are getting closer to the physical world, creating new opportunities for perceiving and controlling our machines, structures and environments. To exploit these opportunities, information systems will need to sense and act as well as compute. Investing engineered systems with the ability to sense and act is the focus for my research activities in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Building on and using techniques in signal processing, modeling, robotics, and micromachined device and fabrication, we are developing MEMS components and arrays with initial applications in biomedical and analytical instruments, human-machine interfaces, and optical/radio-frequency switching and signal processing. MEMS components and arrays will enable highly functional and reliable analytical instruments with new assays and protocols, new drug delivery systems and new kinds of prosthetic devices. Electromechanical switching, filtering and signal processing of optical and radio frequency signals are emerging MEMS application areas showing promise as a means of achieving superior performance with size, cost and power consumption orders of magnitude smaller than those of conventional methods. Richer human-machine interfaces will be possible through the development of displays and sensors that tap into the full sensory capabilities and modalities of humans. Specifically, MEMS makes possible the construction of affordable, high-resolution tactile and haptic stimulators and displays to complement widely-available and well-developed auditory and visual interfaces, creating new dimensions not yet possible to exploit in human-machine interfaces and virtual reality systems.

The future and real promise of MEMS will be in our ability to design systems of components with thousands to millions of electromechanical parts integrated with electronics to create MEMS arrays with a systems function greater than the sum of the individual parts. This next stage in the evolution and maturity of MEMS will be driven less by captive fabrication facilities and process development and more by innovative, aggressive electromechanical systems design. MEMS is poised to take full advantage of advances in information technology and couple them to advances in robotics and control theory to drive a fundamentally new approach to electromechanical system design and fabrication. For the first time, approaches akin to VLSI electronics can be taken to usher in an equally exciting and productive era of VLSI electromechanics. By merging sensing and actuation with computation, MEMS will not only invest existing systems with enhanced capabilities and reliability, but will make possible radically new devices and systems designs that exploit the miniaturization, multiplicity and microelectronics of MEMS.

Research Interest Keywords
bioengineeringdisplay deviceshapticshuman-computer interactionMEMSmicroroboticstissue engineering