Microbeam Vibrations

August 29, 2013

Chris Douglas, a junior Mechanical Engineering major, manipulates tiny machines called microbeams with electricity to make them move. Because of the machine's size, the microbeams can vibrate between 200,000 and 20,000,000 cycles per second and at certain frequencies, they begin to vibrate aggressively, or resonate.  Douglas uses an oscilloscope to measure how much the electric field changes per cycle and how many times the system cycles per second to determine the resonant frequency.

Douglas then uses the information about resonant frequency in his research project regarding natural drug discovery for various diseases. The idea behind his work is that he will coat hundreds of beams with specific drug targets for different diseases and measure their resonant frequencies. Douglas will then introduce a natural drug to the drug targets on the beams. If he notices that the resonant frequency of any of the beams changes after the drug is applied, then this means that the drug attached to the drug targets and could potentially be used to treat a certain disease.