Please visit the above links to have a more detailed look at our research projects. Below is a list of Centers that we are leading or affiliated with.

NSF MBM at UIUC - Miniature Brain Machinery

NSF STC EBICS at MIT/GT/UIUC - Emergent Behavior of Integrated Cellular Systems

NSF IGERT at UIUC - Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and Bionanotechnology
(download brochure)

NIH Training Grant at UIUC - Midwestern Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center
(download brochure)

NSF CiiT (I/UCRC) at UIUC - Center for Innovative Instrumentation Technology

NSF NSEC at OSU - Center for Affordable Nanoengineering for Polymeric Micro and Nanodevices


Research: >> Current >> Micro-Scale Surgical Tools

Micro-Scale Surgical Tools

1. Silicon Micro Surgical Scalpels using Selective Epitaxial growth
Aeraj ul Haque
College of Mechanical Engineering
Prof. John P. Denton
School of Electrical and Computer Technology
Prof. Rashid Bashir
College of Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering.

Key Words: Micro-surgical scalpels, Epitaxial growth, RIE, cutting edge.

The advancement of less invasive micro-surgical procedures and the drive for research in micro-biological entities as well as human surgery involving micro-structures requires an extremely sharp cost effective micro-scalpel. Entities such as animal cells, optical and neural nerves and capillaries, ocular tissues have dimensions in the order of microns. The current tools available include steel scalpels whose minimum feature size is limited by the crude machining methods used to manufacture them. Diamond scalpels have been manufactured as small as 0.12 mm but they are limited by their high cost and limited usage. A simple two-mask process has been designed to manufacture silicon micro-surgical scalpels an order smaller then the smallest scalpel in current production. The process takes advantage of the well-developed micro-fabrication technique. The scalpels are patterned on oxidized Si wafers through lithography and defined using a combination of RIE (reactive ion etching) and DRIE (deep reactive ion etching). The cutting edge in the order of nano-meters is formed using selective epitaxial growth of Si (SEG) and the final scalpels are released by an etch-through technique. With this process the minimum dimension is only limited by the dimensions of the masks and thus scalpels can be made on sub micron scales allowing minimum damage during surgery and the low costs involved allow for a single use disposable scalpel.


Figure: (a)-(g) Fabrication sequence of the Si micro-surgical scalpels; (h) and (i) SEM images of the scalpels.

This project is funded by the Purdue University OTC Trask Grant.


[1] Gerold W. Neudeck, John P. Denton, Mark E. Stidham, “Fabrication of a Silicon Micro-scalpel with a nanometer cutting edge”. Proceedings of the 15th Biennial IEEE University/Government/Industry Microelectronic Symposium (UGIM ’03), Boise, ID, pp.304-307.