Azadeh Ansari does research in the design and fabrication of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). MEMS are miniaturized devices that can be compared to tiny guitar strings with diameters in nano/micrometer-scale dimensions. Such devices are used for advanced sensing, actuation, or for time keeping, similar to how quartz crystals operate in a watch.
Her best “aha” moment is when she and her team test the devices that they have fabricated in the clean room using nano-fabrication techniques, and they see their measured results.
“As an experimentalist, I love when we see unexpected results and try to come up with reasons to justify it,” said Ansari, who holds the Sutterfield Family Early Career Professorship. “As much as it is satisfying to experimentally ‘observe’ what you expect from theory, I enjoy when the measurement outcomes are unexpected and you have to re-think of the science behind it.”
Ultimately, for her research, Ansari wants to gain a better understanding of the physics behind the operation of MEMS devices and find new applications for them, such as her team’s development of micro-bristle-bots. In the classroom, she wants to inspire students’ curiosity about how things work and develop explanations of why things are designed the way they are.