Special Issue "Dielectric Thin Films for Tunable Sensors and Active Devices"


A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Physical Sensors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2009)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. M. W. Cole
Integrated Electromagnetic Materials Research Group, Materials and Manufacturing Science Division, U.S. Army Research Laboratory-WMRD, BLDG, 4600, Deer Creek Loop, Attn: RDRL-WMM-E, Aberdeen Proving Ground, 21005, USA
E-Mail: melanie.w.cole.civ@mail.mil
Phone: +1 410 306 0747
Interests: electronics; dielectric thin films; MEMS; electromagnetic sensors; sensor materials; sensor thin film fabrication process science; optoelectronic sensors; thin film and semiconductor techniques; microsystem technology; nanotechnology

Special Issue Information


Active materials represent a research area with applications spanning both the commercial and military sectors. Some widely recognized active materials are piezoelectric (electromechanical coupling), magnetostrictive (magneto-mechanical coupling), and shape-memory alloys (thermo-mechanical phase-transformation coupling). Many of the physical phenomena associated with bulk active materials are well known. Historically, this research area has been focused on bulk materials (i.e. greater than 50 microns) development/characterization for structural applications rather than thin films systems. For reference purposes, piezoelectric research developed in the 1950’s (i.e. PZT), while Nitinol (i.e. shape memory) and Terfenol-D (i.e. magnetostrictive) developmental efforts began in the 1960’s. In the late 1970’s integration of these bulk active materials into smart systems for reducing vibration (e.g. rotorcraft active control flap), minimizing optical aberrations (e.g. Hubble telescope), and precision positioning objects (e.g. commercial cannon auto-focus camera) achieved considerable success. Much of the fundamental research spurred development of new active materials such as ferromagnetic shape memory alloys, active polymeric systems, and multiferroic materials. While these areas represent major research advancements, the integration of these materials into the small scale began during the last decade, i.e. small scale thin films being defined by dimensions less than 10 microns, hence Thin Film materials. Such novel active thin film materials will have a significantly larger impact on future Sensor and advanced device technology than their active material predecessors (the macro active materials) had on previous structural applications. Therefore, active thin films represent both an important and an enabling technology for a number of future sensor applications.

This special issue will include original papers focused on, but not limited to the following topics:

  • Novel thin film active materials; uniform composition to complex multi-layers; property tunability
  • Film deposition, process science, modeling, and property optimization
  • Film deposition/fabrication and compatibility with substrate
  • Processing science of hetero-structure active thin film materials
  • Characterization/measurement methodologies of materials properties, and standardization
  • Compatibility of film constituents; Integration, constituent compatibility, design and material property tuning for system applications
  • Development and processing of complex multi-layer hybrid active thin film devices/structures
  • Development of complex and hybrid film systems
  • Improvement/optimization of the active thin film properties (Specifications and nomenclature and quality tests are vital appropriate frame work for active thin film materials characterization and optimization)
  • Active material-Improvement in sensor design
  • Integration (design and integration engineering: process design and control, structure, microstructure, surface and film/substrate engineering and assessment of thin film materials)
  • Materials reliability (test and evaluation); accelerated lifetime testing
  • Material property tuning for system sensor application
  • Concept and technology demonstration (CTD) to support decision for transition to system development and demonstration.
  • Technology investment strategy and future material and sensor trends. Future trends associated with the development and potential uses of thin-film active materials for sensors applications


  • tunable sensors
  • thin films
  • active materials
  • property coupling
  • integration
  • modeling
  • property tunability
  • film deposition
  • film process science
  • modeling
  • property optimization
  • reliability
  • test and evaluation
  • property material balance
  • device tunability

Published Papers

No papers have been published in this special issue yet.

Last update: 4 March 2014

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