Nanostructured Titania

Tech ID: 10296 / UC Case 2005-531-0


UCSB is pleased to announce the development of novel fabrication processes to produce MEMS from titanium and other metals using standard lithography. The technology is now available for licensing.

Titanium's advantages over silicon for MEMS applications

  • Higher fracture toughness: Ti is more durable and more shock-resistant than Si.
  • Greater biocompatibility in many in vivo applications. (Ti is FDA-approved and the material of choice for use in the human body in hip replacements, dental implants, and pacemakers.)
  • Resistance to harsh environments: useful when surface hardness or wear is important (nanoscale probes, microneedles, drug delivery, implanted medical devices
  • Relative ductility: useful in applications such as microfabricated devices for biomaterial diffraction studies that require a thin side to reduce x-ray attenuation.
  • Surface can be modified via plasma nitridization or carburization'expanding the materials envelope.


    • Biosensors
    • Drug Delivery (microneedles)
    • Medical Devices (implanted or external)
    • Surgical Tools


    • Ti wafers are10 to 100 times less expensive in volume production than single-crystal Si wafers.
    • Apply manufacturing equipment already in place (for Si machining) to metal substrates such as bulk Ti.
    • Because Ti micromachining begins with standard machine-shop tools and processes, wafers can have milled and drilled features that would be expensive or impossible to produce using conventional semi-conductor microprocessing tools and techniques.
    • Ti MEMS bulk micromachining (unlike Si surface machining) permits high aspect ratio structures (HARS) that enhance mechanical integrity, stiffness, and flatness'especially crucial in larger devices such as micro-mirrors for optical switching applications. HARS also provide larger surface areas for capacitative actuators.
    • Both macro-and micromachining can take place on the same substrate.

    UCSB Titanium MEMS Patent Portfolio

    UC Santa Barbara has developed a suite of patent applications related to the diverse applications of Titanium MEMS, including:

    • UC Case No. 2003-360: 'Titanium MEMS in Harsh Environments.'  Foundational patent, covering MEMs devices of titanium and other suitable metals, as well as the method of fabricating those devices. The process described uses the existing silicon infrastructure and allows design considerations currently in use for the SCREAM process to be applied to the metal MEMs process. Process applications include, among other things, the fabrication of devices for portable communications, radars, surgical tools, medical implants and surgical tools, accelerometers and actuators, optics, arrays, liquid crystal displays, and micromirrors. US Patent Number: 7,166,488, plus continuation application pending.

    • UC Case No. 2005-531: 'Nanostructured Titania.'   Focuses on a method of forming patterned, crack-free nanostructured titania (NST) for applications such as chemical sensing, wear-resistant electrical contacts, and photovoltaics. The resulting Ti films have high edge acuity and range, with sizes from about 300 micrometers or less and are biocompatible. The process can also fabricate NST elements with pores of various selectable diameters. Claims also cover the resulting patterned, crack-free NST material. U.S. Patent Application 11/397,165.

    • UC Case No. 2005-704: 'Three-Dimensional Metal Microfabrication Process and Devices Produced Thereby'   Focuses on a method for three-dimensional microfabrication of complex, high aspect ratio structures with arbitrary height profiles in bulk silicon or titanium. The application also covers devices resulting from this process, such as Titanium micromirrors. U.S. Patent Application 11/445,067.

    • UC Case No. 2006-175: 'Dimensional Microfabrication Process and Devices Produced Thereby.'  An improved monocyclic deep etching process for the rapid micromachining of titanium substrates having a wide variety of thicknesses to produce high aspect ration features and acceptably smooth surfaces on titanium microdevices. U.S. Patent Application 11/537,743.

    • UC Case No. 2007-001: 'Bulk Titanium Microneedles with Embedded Microfluidic Networks for Transdermal Drug Delivery, etc.'  Focuses on microneedles fabricated in titanium, as well as implantable medical devices. Patent pending.

    "Bulk Titanium MEMS " N. MacDonald, UC Santa Barbara Engineering Insights, 2006

    "Bulk Titanium MEMS"   

    VIDEO PRESENTATION   by Noel MacDonald    Windows Media    Quicktime

    Patent Status

    Country Type Number Dated Case
    United States Of America Issued Patent 7,718,552 05/18/2010 2005-531


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  • Abu Samah, Zuruzi
  • Kolmakov, Andrei
  • MacDonald, Noel C.
  • Moskovits, Martin
  • Safinya, Cyrus R.
  • Ward, Marcus S.

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