Building a future from the atoms up

Australian Research Fellow Associate Professor Andrew Fleming has co-authored a significant new book that is of particular interest to researchers in mechatronics and in control applied to atomic force microscopy and other nanopositioning applications.

Andrew Fleming

Design, Modeling and Control of Nanopositioning Systems, co-authored with Associate Professor Kam K Leang from the University of Nevada, is the first comprehensive text on the complete design cycle of nanopositioning systems.

Published in 2014, the book covers three broad areas covering precision control theory; the complete process of nanopositioning control including practical difficulties and their solution; and applying basic principles to experimental application in atomic force microscopes.

Fleming's previous publications include over 130 papers for journals and conferences and three books. He also has six patent applications with international licensing in 13 countries.

A graduate of the University with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering in 2000 and a PhD in 2004, Fleming is currently a Associate Professor with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the University's Precision Mechatronics Lab. The Lab enables a multidisciplinary group of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers and physicists to combine their knowledge to develop new mechatronic and robotic technologies for fabrication, imaging and health care. Fleming's research focuses on nanofabrication, micro-robotics, metrological sensing, nano-positioning and high-speed scanning probe microscopy.

Over the past 12 years, Fleming has secured over $10 million in funding, including a  $750,000 Australian Research Council Future Fellowship for full-time research from 2014 to 2017 into miniaturising piezoelectric sensors. Amongst the many awards received in his stellar career, Fleming received the Newcastle Innovation Rising Star Award for Excellence in Industrial Engagement and Technology Transfer in 2012 and was named the University of Newcastle's Researcher of the Year in 2007.

"There is an ever increasing demand for higher performance and miniaturisation in mechatronic systems such as semiconductor process machinery, atomic force microscopy, and biomedical devices", explains Fleming. "This demand is driving the development of new high-performance methods for sensing and actuation, precision fabrication, and control.

"Research at the Precision Mechatronics Lab is at the forefront of these developments with a number of new technologies for building and controlling new miniature piezoelectric systems. These technologies are being applied to applications such as integrated circuit fabrication, ultrasonic machining, miniature robotics, and high performance motion control."

Fleming was also successful in receiving a $266,300 Australian Research Council 2015 Discovery Project grant for his research into atomic resolution sensors for imaging and metrological science.

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