New Transistor for Smart Sensors and Actuators Invented at LSU

17 July 2009

Diagram and photo of movable gate FET.

Remember Helen Keller and her struggle to connect to the real world? Scientists and engineers are currently facing an equivalent challenge. It is possible to pack millions of transistors and other electronic components into tiny chips but how these 'artificial brains' communicate with the outside world is limited.

Until now, the sensors that 'see and feel' the external world and the 'hands' or actuators that carry out the actions determined by the 'brain' have been generally outside the chip and the connections to the 'brain' use extremely valuable space. Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) is emerging as a new technology where the computational part as well as the sensors and actuators are integrated into a single chip, thus revolutionizing today's research by allowing unparalleled synergy between previously unrelated fields such as biology and microelectronics, etc.

Dr. Pratul Ajmera, left, is the McDermott International Professor and Newton B. Thomas Professor of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. He is actively conducting research in this interdisciplinary area and was co-awarded a patent titled “Laterally movable gate field effect transistors for microsensors and microactuators.” The patent developed into a working device which is demonstrated and is published in the Journal of Micromechanical Systems. His research enables direct integration of sensors and actuators with electronic circuitry by employing this new transistor on the chip enabling fabrication of extremely sensitive and smart position sensors, low and high-g accelerometers, resonators, actuators with large motion, etc.

For more information, please see contact Pratul Ajmera, PhD, LSU Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, 225-578-5620,

Article by Tammy V. Abshire, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-5478,