Micro Fuel Cells
Our research activities leverage the benefits of microfabrication and
microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology to implement novel miniature
sensors, actuators, and integrated microsystems.
Advances in micromachining technology are enabling the fabrication of complex
microsystems, such as dime-size gas turbines and micro fuel cells. One can
envision integrating a complete power plant on a chip by miniaturizing all the
required components and implementing thermodynamic cycles or other energy
conversion approaches at small scale. Our long term objective is to
develop such Power MEMS, or microsystems for energy conversion and power
generation. Upon maturity, this technology could enable portable power
sources with significantly higher energy density than today's lithium batteries,
and a high power density, low cost approach for scavenging energy from waste
heat. Such improvements are required to meet the growing needs of portable
electronics and to enable the distributed sensors, small robots, personal
cooling, higher efficiency vehicles.
- Microturbine-based heat engines:
In our laboratory, we are developing core technology for miniature
heat engines, such as microfabricated turbines, gas lubricated
microbearings, and micro heat exchangers. They are specifically aimed
for a micro Rankine vapor power cycle device. The technology
development is supported by fundamental studies of fluid flow and heat
transfer at small scales, such as the aerodynamics of moderate Reynolds
number (10<Re<1000) microturbomachinery, visco-inertial internal flows, and
two-phase flow in microchannels.
- Microfabricated fuel cells:
Using photolithographic patterning and etching, we are developing
miniature proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) operating on
hydrogen-air. MEMS technology allows us to re-invent and optimize the
fuel cell configuration, such as the flow paths, gas diffusion layers, and
the device assembly. Future interests also include optimize the
electro-catalyst structures using nanotechnology.
- MEMS cooling:
In addition to implementing thermodynamic cycles
for power generation, we wish to develop microsystems for cooling of
electronics, sensors, or people. Current research activities include
the development of an adaptive MEMS-based cooling skin for high heat flux
applications, such as ramjets or high performance power electronics and
microprocessors. Future interests include vapor compression cooling
microsystems for personal cooling.
Sensors and Actuators
- Aerospace Sensors:
Sensors have been one of the most successful applications for MEMS
technology, as illustrated by the broad use of MEMS pressure sensors and
accelerometers in the automotive industry. We wish to enable a similar
pervasiveness in the aerospace industry by developing technologies and
devices that meet the stringent requirements and harsh environments
characteristic to aerospace applications.
Our approach is to partner with aerospace companies to jointly develop
solutions to meet their specific needs. We are currently developing a
silicon carbide pressure sensor with Kulite Semiconductor Products (Leonia,
NJ), and a silicon carbide shear sensor, or skin
friction gage, with ATK GASL (Long Island, NY). We are also developing novel
microfabrication and packaging processes for high temperature devices.
Potential industrial collaborators should contact
for more information.
Research Assistant Positions
- We are currently looking for highly qualified and
motivated graduate students and post-doctoral researchers to join our
laboratory. If you are interested and have relevant technical
expertise, please contact
Prof. Frechette for more information.
Funding is available for some of the
projects. Application information
online. The official language at the Université de Sherbrooke is French, however English is a common second
language for most researchers,
and theses can be written and defended in English.
- Description of open research