OXiNEMS - Oxide Nanoelectromechanical Systems for Ultrasensitive and Robust Sensing of Biomagnetic Fields - targets the development of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) devices fully made of (crystalline) transition metal oxides, a class of compounds that show a wide range of physical properties, with the perspective of introducing new classes of transducers with unprecedented detection/transduction mechanisms and integrating more functionalities into nanomechanical systems. This new technological approach will add multifunctional oxides to the repertoire of the current MEMS/NEMS field.

Our science-to-technology breakthrough is the realization of a proof of concept ultrasensitive oxides-based NEMS device for the detection of biomagnetic fields. The OXiNEMS team will implement ultrasensitive detectors able to measure very weak magnetic fields targeting those generated by human brain activity, of the order of tens of femtotesla. Importantly, these innovative sensors will be extremely robust to applied magnetic fields overcoming, for what concerns this aspect, the operational limitations of the sensors (namely SQUIDs - Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices) currently used worldwide in magnetoencephalographic (MEG) systems, that probe the functioning of the human brain.Differently from SQUIDs, thanks to their sensitivity and robustness to strong static and pulsed applied fields, the OXiNEMS sensors are foreseen to allow the effective integration of MEG with other recently developed imaging techniques such as ultralow field (ULF) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and with techniques traditionally non-compatible with MEG, such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Thus, the new class of multifunctional sensors implemented in this project could give rise to a new generation of multimodal systems allowing to image brain activity and connectivity with high spatial and temporal resolution, with a sound impact on basic and clinical neuroscience.

Starting date May 1st 2019 – End date January 31st 2024 – Total budget 3,176,802.50 Eur