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Member Bio

Alex C Benken 

University of Michigan  Research Investigator
Ann Arbor, MI
859 653 3069

Contact Information

Ann Arbor, MI
859 653 3069
University of Michigan
Research Investigator
1301 Beal Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Personal Information

Additional Information

COE EECS - ECE Division
Advanced Materials, Processes, and Packaging


Research Scientist: University of Michigan, WIMS2 Center, EECS Department

2019 – Present


Primary duties involved leadership role of PhD research teams and active research on multiple projects.


Downhole and Oil Pipeline Monitoring Microsystems: Lead research team to design and realize microsystems for measuring pressure, temperature, and inertial data in downhole oil well and oil pipeline environments. Systems are comprised of a deployed sensing unit and external readout module for programming data transfer. Sensing units intended for downhole deployment are designed for free-flow behavior in the oil well, meeting strict requirements on size, density, packaging durability, sensing resolution, and system cost. Sensing units intended for pipeline monitoring are designed to fold for extreme size reduction while maintaining performance. An external module is designed for portability while permitting wireless charging, programing, and download of recorded data for the sensing units. Downhole systems were successfully designed, fabricated, and tested within an 11 month timetable and deployed into an operational oil well in Conga, Africa. Initial project success resulted in follow on contract for further development of the microsystem. 


Ingestible Device for GI Tract Sampling: Brought onto project to identify and correct both electrical and physical issues preventing system deployment. Rectified electrical issues included inadequate circuit design for power draw requirements, high power draw resulting in low battery life, and PCB layout causing fabricated system failure. Physical issues solved included redesign of sampling port chamber to permit rotation with low-torque micro-motor and new assembly methods to improve ingestible device fabrication. Device was successfully deployed in vivo on multiple canine models, collecting GI tract samples and inertial tracking data to meet contract goals within required timeline.


Passive Pressure Monitoring in Core-Flood Experiments: Worked with a multi-university team to design a wireless pressure sensing system utilizing inductive coupling and resonant frequency detection in core-flooding experiments for an industrial sponsor. Project involved direct research and student mentoring to model inductive coupling and sensor response to maximize pressure resolution, packaging design of embedded passive pressure sensor, PCB layout and component design of electrical hardware, and state machine planning of interrogation and readout software.


Ph.D. Research: University of Michigan, EECS Department

2014 – 2018


Research involved design of capacitive pressure sensors and advanced microfabrication techniques for their assembly, focusing on improvements in sensor response, yield, and system integrability. 


Class 10 Cleanroom Microfabrication: 5+ years cleanroom experience in UM Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. Tool expertise includes hands‑on (recipe development, tool modification) experience with: PVD (sputtering, evaporation), PECVD thin-film (oxide, nitride, α-Si), ALD (Al2O3), dry etching (RIE of thin-film ceramics, XeF2 of α-Si, O2 plasma clean), wet etching, photolithography (stepper, contact aligner), direct-write lithography, thin‑film characterization (stress, uniformity), wafer dicing / die singulation, and device inspection (optical, SEM microscopy, interferometry).


MEMS Capacitive Pressure Sensor Fabrication: Research focused on Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) dielectric substrate capacitive pressure sensors for use in a wide range of environments, ranging from natural gas and oil exploration to biomedical application. A robust, high-yield microfabrication process was created by identifying and addressing equipment limitations that constrained yield and performance, focusing particularly on interactions between equipment configurations, process integration, and sensor design. Sensors measuring <1.5 mm3 with full-scale ranges from >10,000 psi to <10 psi were fabricated with yields of >90% and unparalleled response and pressure resolution. Work published in IEEE Sensors Journal.


System Integration of Sensors: Large full-scale range sensors integrated into microsystem for downhole sensing and successfully field tested in brine well. Reduced full-scale range sensors integrated into ingestible capsules to monitor GI tract pressure with passive monitoring readout system. Device tested in vivo in a canine model and successfully readout. Work published in Micromachines journal.


MEng Research: University of Louisville, Micro-Nano Technology Center, ECE Department

2013 – 2014


Germanium on Silicon Integrated Photodiode: Developed cleanroom processes to study physical and electrical properties on electron beam (e-beam) deposited germanium thin films on silicon substrates. Data used to develop and fabricate Ge‑based photo-diode for integration with communication circuitry. Work published in SPIE conference proceedings. 


BSEE Research: University of Louisville, Micro-Nano Technology Center, ECE Department

2012 – 2013


MEMS Bistable Temperature Sensor: Designed and developed a miniaturized temperature sensor with MEMS technology. Project was successful, resulting in follow-on contract from customer (Raytheon).


Co-Op Internship: Test Engine Sensor Integration, GE Aviation           

2011 – 2012


GE Aviation: Three semesters of co-op internship with GE Aviation engine testing and sensor integration team. Analyzed engine redesigns and modifications by planning sensor placement and lead routing. Included hands-on experience with engine assembly and work with union employees to fulfill contract requirements. 


Computer Skills: COMSOL, Matlab, Eagle, Tanner L-Edit, SolidWorks, LT-SPICE, Microsoft Office, Canvas




Journal Manuscripts:

A. Benken, Y. Gianchandani, “Passive Wireless Pressure Sensing for Gastric Manometry,” MDPI Micromachines; Section B: Biology; Implantable Microdevices, Vol. II, micromachines-647439, Volume 10, Issue 12, 2019, Featured Paper.


A. Benken, Y. Gianchandani, “A High-Yield Microfabrication Process for Sapphire Substrate Pressure Sensors With 17 Bit Resolution,” IEEE Sensors Journal, 2021.


Y. Sui, A. Benken, Y. Ma, A. Trickey-Glassman, T. Li, Y. Gianchandani, “An Autonomous Environmental Logging Microsystem (ELM) for Harsh Environments,” IEEE Sensors Journal, 2021.


  Manuscripts in Preparation:

N. Vellaluru, P. Dutta, A. Benken, Y. Gianchandani, “Flow-Compatible Autonomous Microsystem for Downhole Monitoring”


Conference Papers:

F. Hopkins, A. Benken, K. Walsh, J. Jones, K. Averett, “Germanium Devices for Integrated Photonic Circuits,” Nanophotonics and Macrophotonics for Space Environments VIII, International Society for Optics and Photonics, 2014.


J. Ordonez-Balera, J. Boero-Rollo, A. Le Beulze, J. Ochi, N. Vellaluru, P. Dutta, A. Benken, Y. Gianchandani, “Wireless Advanced Nano-Devices for Well Monitoring,” Abu Dhabi Int’l Petroleum Exhib. & Conf, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Nov. 2020


Patents and Invention Disclosures:

Y. Gianchandani, A. Benken, N. Vellaluru, P. Dutta, J.-R. Ordonez-Varela, A. Le-Beulze, J.-G. Boero-Rollo, “Autonomous Buoyant Microsystem for Environmental Logging,” disclosure filed July 17, 2020, UM file no. 2021-035, PCT filed Nov. 6, 2020


Y. Gianchandani, T. Li, P. Dutta, A. Benken, J.-R. Ordonez-Varela, “Distributed Pressure Measurement System for Core Flood Experiments,” disclosure filed June 2, 2019, UM file no. 2019-452, provisional patent 62/910,828 filed Oct. 4, 2019, PCT/US2020/053970 filed Oct 2, 2020


D. Garmire, A. Benken, J. Davis, M. Creech, Y. Gianchandani, “Multiplexed Infrared Position Sensing via Optical Waveguide Stack for Spinning Disk Engagement and Position Detection (V2C IR Position Sensor),” disclosure filed June 18, 2020, UM file no. UM2020-526



Copyright © 2016
Wireless Integrated MicroSensing & Systems (WIMS2)
University of Michigan, College of Engineering
2300A Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Bldg.
1301 Beal Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2122

Phone: 734-763-2126
Fax: 734-647-2342