The Nano & Micro Systems group aims at the development, from the conceptual idea to the implementation of prototypes, of silicon based electronic sensors and MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems), also taking benefit from the advantages deriving from the combination of well established microelectronic technologies with nanotechnologies, according to the so-called "Nano-on-Micro" approach. The related activities include design, numerical simulation and modeling, electrical and functional characterization, and also contribution to the development of specially tailored fabrication technologies, for which the FBK-irst facility is mainly used. In parallel, custom analog read-out and signal processing circuits are designed, both discrete and integrated with commercial CMOS technologies.
In the past decade, electronic sensors and microsystems have become increasingly important and pervasive in many application fields, spanning from industrial automation to environmental monitoring, from biomedical diagnostics to domotics, from entertainment to security and surveillance. Among the large variety of devices of interest for these applications, the research areas of the NMS group are mainly focused on sensors and detectors for radiation imaging over a very broad energy range, including infrared, visible and ultraviolet light, X- and gamma-rays, alpha particles and high-energy charged particles.
As for optical sensors, the emphasis is on novel CMOS image sensors with special functionalities (e.g., high dynamic range, range measurement features, multispectral capabilities, etc.). We have also started to work at the development of CMOS image sensors with embedded organic photodetectors.
As for high-energy radiation detectors, the emphasis is on radiation-hard detectors for particle tracking in high-energy physics experiments as well as on photodetectors and particle detectors aimed at environmental monitoring, nuclear medicine and scientific applications.
The two macro-areas of application of our advanced CMOS image sensors are 3-D vision and biomedical imaging. CMOS 3-D image sensors are mainly oriented to automobile safety (out-of-position detection, passenger classification for controlled airbag deployment, pre-crash sensing, comfort applications, ...), security and surveillance, domotics and building automation. High-sensitivity CMOS sensors are mainly oriented to time-resolved fluorescence measurements, which are an investigation tool of paramount importance in imaging of molecular processes in life sciences research, allowing the mapping of many cell parameters.
As far as radiation detectors are concerned, our main involvement is in High Energy Physics experiments at particle colliders (e.g., the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and its upgrade). Moreover, we are developing gamma-ray detectors for nuclear medicine (Positron Emission Tomography, scintigraphy) and alpha-particle detectors for environmental Radon monitoring.
In the above mentioned research areas, significant results have been obtained both from the scientific point of view (about 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings in the last five years, several invited talks, etc.) and from the technological transfer point of view (project coordination, participation in projects and in international collaborations, contribution to the production of detectors for CERN experiments, organization of topical workshops, etc.).
Of particular relevance are the following results: i) we have designed and tested low-noise CMOS avalanche detectors suitable for large-area array implementation, which open the way to high-performance, low-cost systems for 3-D vision and biomedical imaging; ii) we have developed high-quality silicon photomultipliers to be used in advanced PET scanner systems; iii) we have developed novel radiation detectors with three-dimensional electrodes, introducing and extensively testing modified device architectures (single-type-column and double-sided, double-type-column) aimed at simplifying the fabrication process while retaining the major advantages offered by this detector topology.
Further InformationResearch Program's Technical reports
Research Program's Published papers