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Graduate Defense: Nicholas McKibben

August 8, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Dissertation Defense

Dissertation Information

Title: Additive Manufacturing of Microelectronic Devices for Extreme Environments

Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering

Advisor: Dr. David Estrada, Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Members: Dr. Zhangxian Deng (Co-Chair), Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering; Dr. Harish Subbaraman, Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Dr. Jessica Koehne, Materials Science and Engineering


This work encompasses a comprehensive exploration of advanced manufacturing techniques for fabricating microelectronic devices compatible with extreme environments. The research integrates the fields of chemistry, nanomaterials, and additive manufacturing to achieve remarkable progress in sensor development, with a particular emphasis on aerosol jet printing (AJP), surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices, patterned graphene growth, and surface functionalization. The investigation begins with the AJP process development of a commercial silver nanoparticle ink, culminating in the fabrication of a piezoelectric SAW transducer that was prototyped as a high-temperature thermometer, showing excellent linearity when validated to 200°C. Next, the investigation continued with the development and formulation of a water-based nickel nanoparticle ink, which was utilized to create novel fabrication routes to high-temperature microelectronic devices and patterned graphene. Thermal sintering experiments were performed on the nickel nanoparticle thin films, showing good survivability up to 600°C and beyond. Several fundamental physical processes were observed during these experiments, such as high-temperature failure, which appears to be thickness dependent and resulted in the spontaneous dewetting of the thin film, as well as the reduction mechanism of oxidized nickel films, which resembled that of typical nucleation and coalescence. Finally, a novel, reactive, lithium niobate ink was conceptualized for functionalizing passive substrate surfaces, and preliminary process development steps were taken toward realizing this AJP ink.