A research team from TU Delft has developed one of the world’s most accurate microchip sensors.

The authors of the new work combined nanotechnology and machine learning, inspired by the cobweb and created a nanomechanical sensor. This work will help in the study of gravity and dark matter, as well as for the development of the quantum Internet, navigation and sensing.

Vibrating objects of the smallest size work in sensors or quantum equipment. When designed and studied, it is difficult to prevent them from interacting with ambient thermal noise. The sensors are in a delicate balance and any interference will negatively affect their performance.

For example, a quantum computer typically operates at temperatures close to absolute zero (-273.15 ° C). The necessary refrigeration equipment to maintain the temperature is expensive, about half a million euros apiece.

The authors of the new work have created a cobweb-shaped microchip sensor that resonates well in isolation from noise and works at room temperature. The researchers were inspired by the cobweb arrangement, because a spider that catches its prey easily monitors the vibration inside the structure – it indicates that the victim has been caught. On the other hand, hunting is not affected by ambient wind or other external vibrations. According to the authors, this is an ideal design that does not respond to external stimuli and creates an isolated vibration.

Based on this web-shaped design, they created a microchip sensor: it is covered with a nanometer-thick ultra-thin film of a ceramic material called silicon nitride.