Daniel Drew


Faculty Mentor: Jeffrey Lang & Vladimir Bulović

Direct Supervisor: Annie Wang

Home University: Virginia Tech

Major: Materials Science and Engineering



I’m working toward a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Green Engineering from Virginia Tech. My main research goals are in the fields of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and self-assembly. I got excited about them through reading science fiction all my life and I somehow managed to stay excited even when faced with the realities of research work. When I have some free time I like to go camping, read, work out, and ride my motorcycle.


A low-loss voltage actuated switch using metal-polymer nanocomposite

The electronics industry faces a serious challenge as it attempts to decrease transistor size following Moore’s law; the extremely high energy usage per bit of information manipulated has already placed practical limits on device design and currently stands as the one of the largest obstacles towards further miniaturization of electronics. A zero-leakage switch on the nano-scale would help to decrease the amount of energy lost per cycle as we escape from basic transistor physics in an effort to continue device scaling into the foreseeable future. This research focuses on a voltage actuated switch created using a polymer, PDMS, highly doped with nickel microparticles in order to make it piezoresistive. Previous work in this area saw issues with poor particle dispersion, high necessary strain, and low levels of repeatability. These problems were remedied via surface functionalization of the nickel with a methoxysilane, refined device design and fabrication techniques, and optimization of material proportions in the composite. The results show an overall positive outlook for the future of this approach in creating a nano-scale low loss switch.