Skip over navigation
All associated faculty »

Michael McAlpine

Research Focus

The focus of our research is in exploring nanotechnology-enabled approaches to addressing fundamental problems in medicine, energy, and flexible electronics.

Our research is highly interdisciplinary, existing at the interface of the physical sciences, natural sciences, and across engineering disciplines. Our research can be subdivided into 3 major themes:

Biomechanical Energy Harvesting
Efficient, highly portable energy sources have attracted increased interest due to the proliferation of handheld consumer electronics. While the computational capabilities of mobile technology have increased many orders of magnitude over the past 20 years, the battery energy density has lagged significantly. Batteries add size and weight to portable devices, along with the inconvenience of requiring an outlet for recharging. Fortunately, decreasing power requirements for mobile electronics open the possibility of replacing batteries with systems that continuously scavenge otherwise wasted energy from the environment. Most intriguing is the possibility of utilizing work produced by the human body via everyday activities, such as breathing or walking.

Novel Nanomaterials
The discovery of new materials often leads to a domino effect of scientific progressions. The sequence typically begins with the development of a new material system, followed by fundamental studies of novel physical properties in the material, finally concluding with the demonstration of one or more device technologies which may be revolutionary in scope. The ability to rationally synthesize new materials with nearly atomic control is a key enabler of next-generation materials technologies. These new nano-materials will serve as systems for studying fundamental physical properties on length scales where finite size effects become predominant, ultimately leading to the assembly of a variety of exciting devices.

Bioinspired Transduction
The development of a miniaturized sensing platform for the selective detection of a variety of chemical species could stimulate exciting scientific and technological opportunities. Achieving high selectivity and sensitivity in chemical sensors has until recently had to rely on physical separation methods or spectroscopic fingerprinting techniques. However, the associated instrumentation is limited in portability, precludes the possibility of implantable or wearable sensors, and usually requires skilled human operators. Smart materials which integrate biochemical recognition moieties with sensitive transducers could provide a general system for highly specific sensors. This bio-inspired approach to mimicking the amazing sensory capabilities developed by nature may allow for fully implantable, non-invasive medical diagnostic sensors.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Nanotechnology-Enabled Flexible and Biocompatible Energy Harvesting. Y. Qi, M. C. McAlpine, Energy Environ. Sci. 2010.
  • Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber for Flexible Energy Conversion. Y. Qi, N. T. Jafferis, K. Lyons, Jr., C. M. Lee, H. Ahmad, M. C. McAlpine, Nano Lett. 2010, 10, 524-528.
  • Recognition of Patterned Molecular Ink with Phage Displayed Peptides. Y. Cui, A. Pattabiraman, B. Lisko, S. C. Collins, M. C. McAlpine, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 1204-1205.
  • First Principles Molecular Modeling of Sensing Material Selection for Hybrid Biomimetic Nano-Sensors. M. Blanco, M. C. McAlpine, J. R. Heath, in Computational Methods for Sensor Material Selection. Eds: M. A. Ryan, A. V. Shevade, C. J. Taylor, M. L. Homer, M. Blanco. (Springer, 2009).
  • Development of Ultra-High Density Silicon Nanowire Arrays for Electronics Applications. D. Wang, B. A. Sheriff, M. C. McAlpine, J. R. Heath, Nano Res. 2008, 1, 9-21.
  • Peptide-Nanowire Hybrid Materials for Selective Sensing of Small Molecules. M. C. McAlpine, H. D. Agnew, R. D. Rohde, M. Blanco, H. Ahmad, A. D. Stuparu, W. A. Goddard III, J. R. Heath, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 9583-9589.
  • Si/a-Si Core/Shell Nanowires as Nonvolatile Crossbar Switches. Y. Dong, G. Yu, M. C. McAlpine, W. Lu, C. M. Lieber, Nano Lett. 2008, 8, 386-391.
  • Highly ordered nanowire arrays on plastic substrates for ultrasensitive flexible chemical sensors. M. C. McAlpine, H. Ahmad, D. Wang, J. R. Heath, Nature Mater. 2007, 6, 379-384.
  • High-Performance Nanowire Electronics and Photonics and Nanoscale Patterning on Flexible Plastic Substrates. M. C. McAlpine, R. S. Friedman, C. M. Lieber, Proc. IEEE 2005, 7, 1357-1363.
  • High-Speed Integrated Nanowire Circuits. R. S. Friedman, M. C. McAlpine, D. S. Ricketts, D. Ham, C. M. Lieber, Nature 2005, 434, 1085.
  • Scalable Interconnection and Integration of Nanowire Devices without Registration. S. Jin, D. Whang, M. C. McAlpine, R. S. Friedman, Y. Wu, C. M. Lieber, Nano Lett. 2004, 4, 915-919.
  • High-Performance Nanowire Electronics and Photonics on Glass and Plastic Substrates. M. C. McAlpine, R. S. Friedman, S. Jin, K.-h. Lin, W. U. Wang, C. M. Lieber, Nano Lett. 2003, 3, 1531-1535.
  • Nanoimprint Lithography for Hybrid Plastic Electronics. M. C. McAlpine, R. S. Friedman, C. M. Lieber, Nano Lett. 2003, 3, 443-445.

Michael McAlpine

McAlpine Lab Webpage
Engineering Quad, D414
Phone: 609-258-6109