The department of PME

The Department of Precision and Microsystems Engineering (PME) is located at  the faculty Mechanical Engineering (3ME) of the Delft University of Technology and carries out research and provides education in the field of high-tech systems and scientific instrumentation. Its research aims to solve fundamental questions in engineering science to advance the performance of precision systems and devices as well as their design and engineering. The PME department focuses on making the most of the opportunities provided by micro and nanoscience. Examples of PME’s research include ultra-precise motion control, sub-nm metrology, energy efficient mechanisms at micro and macro-scale, functionalised silicon probe tips for picoliter droplet dispensing, graphene growth and stretching using a micro-fabricated tensile tester, computational design methods for thermal topology optimisation and the mechanics of nanostructure sensor systems.

The steady technology development of today pushes the performance of all kinds of equipment for electronics, health care, materials technology and many other fields to new extremes. To meet the new requirements, mechanical engineering is pushed to extremes in precision, miniaturisation and multi-domain integration both for the products of tomorrow and the equipment to make those products. This requires a science based engineering approach based on thorough understanding of not only mechanics and dynamics but also aspects such as thermodynamics, mechatronics, optics and system miniaturisation and integration.

Track High-Tech Engineering (HTE)

The purpose of the MSc Track in High-Tech Engineering (HTE) is to educate engineers in the technological knowledge and skills they need to design a new generation of both the products and the required equipment that will enable even greater achievements. Starting from the fundamentals of physics and mechanics, students gain the insights and understanding they will need to push beyond the current limits. The programme includes analysis, design and implementation of solutions, using analytical models, computational methods and experimental work to reach new performance and understanding. With this focus on the ‘ultimate in mechanical engineering’ the program confronts students with the daunting conceptual and design challenges of developing (and utilising) tools for precision mechanical engineering. Although the emphasis is on high-tech equipment and instrumentation, the same knowledge and methodology applies to energy systems, medical equipment, automotive and aerospace design and many other fields of mechanical engineering, enabling these future engineers to address the needs of our modern society.

Focus Areas

Next to the HTE obligatory courses students choose a research focus in which they want to deepen their knowledge. Focus Areas within the High-Tech Engineering track are: 

Mechatronic System Design (MSD) aims at designing integrated systems of mechanisms, sensors, actuators and control to perform complex tasks while interacting in a multiphysical environment, typically at high speed and high accuracy, at various length scales. Recent trends include distributed motion, as in compliant mechanisms, as well as distributed actuation and sensing, and control techniques based on fractional order calculus and reset strategies.

Engineering Dynamics (ED) studies the time-dependent linear and non-linear motion of mechanical structures to engineer dynamical systems. Material properties, thermodynamic interactions and physical actuation forces are studied for enhanced performance of high-speed devices, using mathematical and experimental methods to elucidate and control their complex motions. Explore the ultimate limits of high-frequency nanoelectromechanical systems of atomic-scale dimensions. 

Micro and Nano Engineering (MNE) bridges the gap between the ultimate small and the macro world. Students learn to develop and optimise production and assembly processes and technologies which make use of phenomena at the nanometre level. The primary focus within the Micro and Nano Engineering group is on the production and assembly of precise and small parts and products of micrometer and nanometre scale.

Engineering Mechanics (EM) deals with physics of mechanics and its experimental, mathematical and numerical tools, design procedures and innovative designs. It covers the foundations of mechanical engineering: the theoretical and experimental analysis of the statics and dynamics of structures and mechanical systems. Basic themes covered are Solid Mechanics, Dynamics, Computational Mechanics, Structural design and Optimization.

Opto-Mechatronics (OM)

Opto-Mechatronics is a specialized field combining many expertise areas and is widely present in the High-Tech industry. This track is an excellent start to becoming a multi-disciplinary researcher or system designer in micro-optics and opto-mechatronics. 

Optomechtronical systems and products are all around us. The zoom lens of a camera. The same but then in vacuum or cryogenic environment. Or robust enough to survive a rocket launch yet with sufficient precision to make detailed earth observations. A wafer scanner writing structures as small as 10 nm on chips via its 15 meter long optical path comprising over 50 optical elements, controlled using a variety of optical sensors. Micro system technology enabling the realisation of micrometer small optical systems, such as sensors integrated in catheters for diagnosis in the smallest blood vessels of our body. A telescope gathering star light photon-by-photon from the outskirts of the universe using a 40-meter primary multi-mirror composed of hundreds of actively controlled units, each suspended by thermally compensated precision mechanisms. High-end spectrometers analysing the stellar radiation helping us unravel the mystery of  the origin of the universe. All these systems are examples of high-end opto-mechatronics or micro-optical systems. They are also products of the industries involved in our research programme in micro-optics and opto-mechatronics that defines the next steps for industry and science in subjects such as metrology with picometer accuracy, low-light astronomy, precision 3D printing, or optical fiber technology. 

Focus Areas

Optomechatronics is a very wide and multi-disciplinary field. Many specialties come together and one of the challenges is to combine all of these in functional systems that satisfy high performance demands. In the OM track we distinguish two main research areas, Micro-optics and Opto-mechatronics, each encompassing the above characteristics, yet each at a different length scale.

The field of opto-mechatronics deals with High-Tech systems where optical units dominate the speed and precision of operation. High end lenses and mirrors tend to be large and heavy yet need to be moved and positioned with extreme accuracy and repeatability. This is true for light operated manufacturing processes like lithography for semiconductor production and for 3D metal printing, as well as extreme accuracy measurement systems and telescopes for astronomy. Opto-mechatronics by nature is a multi-disciplinary field integrating optics and mechatronic system design, using actuators, sensors and control techniques for building smart and adaptive optical systems. 

An emerging trend is evolving towards micro-optics, providing solutions in high-capacity telecommunication, distributed measurement, as well as  integration of optical and mechatronic elements for micro opto-electro-mechanical systems (MOEMS), and advanced optical elements for biological and chemical sensing. Of special interest are flexible photonic systems, with links to adaptive optics and compliant mechanisms, with application in flexible displays, and in waveguides for flexible integrated optical circuits. This entails many challenges in numerical modeling, design, materials such as polymer or (silicon) semiconductor nanophotonics, and production.


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