Bulovic Group: Apoorva Murarka

  1. A closer look at one of the pressure sensors which Apoorva Murarka developed in the Bulovic ONE-Lab.
    A closer look at one of the pressure sensors which Apoorva Murarka developed in the Bulovic ONE-Lab.
  2. An optical microscopy image of the pressure sensor fabricated using the contact lift-off mesa-transfer process developed in the Bulovic group. The gold parallelogram is the MEMS pressure sensor. About 1,024 circular cavities are covered by this parallelogram gold membrane which is 140 nm thick. The underlying PDMS on ITO-Glass is patterned with 25 µm diameter circular cavities with about 5 µm to 7 µm spacing between the circles.
    An optical microscopy image of the pressure sensor fabricated using the contact lift-off mesa-transfer process developed in the Bulovic group. The gold parallelogram is the MEMS pressure sensor. About 1,024 circular cavities are covered by this parallelogram gold membrane which is 140 nm thick. The underlying PDMS on ITO-Glass is patterned with 25 µm diameter circular cavities with about 5 µm to 7 µm spacing between the circles.

Meet Apoorva Murarka, EECS graduate student with the Bulovic Group, in the ONE-Lab at MIT. He has worked with Prof. Bulovic for three years — first as an Electrical Engineering undergraduate major (6-1). His current work is being co-advised by both Prof. Bulovic and Prof. Jeffrey Lang.

Apoorva, how did you happen to come to Prof. Bulovic’s group and what do you hope to do beyond?

Apoorva Murarka:
“I was a student in 6.007 (taught by Prof. Bulovic) and I wanted to work on a MEMS project, so I approached Prof. Bulovic, wondering if he had a MEMS project that I could work on. I have been working on this project for nearly three years now. I like working in Prof. Bulovic’s group because it is an eclectic mix of people from backgrounds in electrical engineering, applied physics, chemistry and material science, carrying out cutting-edge research. The environment in the group is conducive for producing creative ideas and research.”

Describe the project/s you are currently working on. What about this work do you envision leading you on in future research?

Apoorva Murarka:
“I work primarily on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Over the past three years, we have developed a technology that enables us to print these devices instead of making them using the conventional micro-fabrication techniques that often employ solvent processing and elevated temperatures. As a result, we can design MEMS sensors and actuators on a new material set based on viscoelastic polymers.

Conventionally, these systems have been made on silicon-based materials due to the use of micro-fabrication techniques. Silicon-based materials are rigid and restricted in size. However, since our process avoids the use of chemical solvents and elevated temperature processing, we can make sensors on flexible polymeric substrates, that would otherwise degrade under conventional micro-fabrication techniques. Another advantage of our process is that it can enable the fabrication of large-area arrays of MEMS sensors on a single substrate.

Currently, I am working on applying this technology to the fabrication of arrays of pressure sensors, microphones and speakers. Additionally, I’m working on integrating materials such as graphene into our process, and on using our process to design optical microcavities and tunable lasers.

The multi-disciplinary nature of this work means that I have to dabble in topics in electrical engineering, physics, mechanical engineering, and material science. I believe that this experience will be beneficial for future research projects as well.”

What would be your ideal for a career following your education and beyond the Bulovic Group? For example, would it relate to energy or another broad area of research, and would it be a blend of physics and engineering or more pure science?

Apoorva Murarka:
“I will most probably focus on research relating to MEMS and NEMS (nanoelectromechanical systems). Ideally, the research would be cross-disciplinary in nature, and it would be a blend of physics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and chemistry.”

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