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Dan Carew and Adam Panter

Location: Fenelon Falls, ON

Award: Young Canadians


Year: 2002


Moving Molecular Mountains

News Release

Fenelon Falls Central Secondary students earn Manning Moung Innovator Awards at nationals

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (May 17, 2002) --- Dan Carew, 18 and Adam Panter,16, walked away with $4,800 in cash after winning a Silver Medal in the Engineering Division and being named Manning Young Canadian Innovators at the Canada Wide Science Fair held this week at the University of Saskatchewan campus.

The students at Fenelon Falls Central Secondary represented the Victoria County Regional Science Fair and will now be invited to attend the annual national Manning Innovation awards program this Fall. The awards are co-sponsored by Calgary-based Encana Corporation.

There were 337 projects, involving 436 students in the culmination of science fairs that attracted more than 500,000 students across the country. Annual prizes presented at the Fair have a value exceeding $200,000.

The Carew-Panter project entitled Moving Molecular Mountains created a tool useful in the field of Micro Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS) to allow fine control of minute electronics, with which current technology is experiencing difficulty. The innovation could allow for greater ease in assembling electronic technologies and easy automation of a process.

The team created a new application for a ferrofluid, which is a suspension of microscopic magnetic particles in an aequeous media. Ferrofluids are presently found in diverse applications such as material separation, quiet solenoids, as the vibrating apparatus for speaker diaphragms, and are used to seal the bearings for computer hard drives to prevent the ingress of dust. Soon, MEMS can be added to that application inventory. The new application of a ferrofluid would use magnetic particles coupled to ganules of a different material to accurately position those granules on a substrate.

"Current methods of assembling MEMS rely on physically lifting and manipulating each microscopic piece of the system, a technique which will prove to be more difficult as the components continue to shrink in size and increase in complexity. The MEMS industry is currently developing complex three-dimensional constructions of minute machines created from silicon, and this will require innovative methods of manufacture. At such a small scale, electrostatic force and other factors inhibit fine control of the minute parts. By using magnetic fields to manipulate the pieces, precision is possible and problems caused by the nature of assembly by physical means will be avoided," explained the Carew-Panter team at their exhibit.

The team developed an experimental micro-assembler as part of their winning project.

"We successfully created a new tool to manipulate microscopic particles to a predetermined position on a metal substrate. Sand particles made of silicon dioxide were successfully coated with the ferrofluid and placed on the head of a pin using magnetic fields. Further research will improve the accuracy of the micro-assembler, the ease of use and the process itself. The concept of moving small particles can also be extended to any other material once the bonding agent that links the ferrofluid of the desired material is discovered," they explained.

The team acknowledged the support at school of Dr. Ken Skeoch and Dan Watson, and the contribution of raw materials by Jordan Electric, in Lindsay.

"Dan and Adam have clearly demonstrated an innovative capability. It is important to receive recognition for their accomplishments to date and more importantly, the encouragement to pursue their interests," said Donald Park, Executive Director of the Manning Awards Foundation.

He said this is the 11th year that the Foundation has been part of the CWSF, adding he is proud to be able to track some of the significant contributions that earlier winners are now making to Canadian society.

The 2003 Canada Wide Science Fair will be held in Calgary.