Darren Branch

Principal Member of the Technical Staff

Portrait of Darren Branch

Darren Branch’s research interests include: micro and nanosystems for chemical and biological analysis and sensing, neurological interfaces, adaptive biological interfaces, acoustic wave biosensors and actuators, surface acoustic wave modeling, quartz resonator modeling, computational acoustics, piezoelectric materials, tunable materials and characterization, sensor arrays and pattern recognition, RF sensor systems.

Related to microelectronics and sensors, Branch has extensive experience with biosensors; piezoelectric, ferroelectric, and metamaterials based devices; acoustic wave devices (SAW, BAW, FBAR, LAMB, and QCM); MEMS (inertial sensors, actuators); RF filters and resonators; RF sensors; RF device characterization; CMOS Sensors; acoustic material characterization; and simulation and design of acoustic wave devices. He also has experience with programming/simulation tools such as Comsol, Matlab, LabVIEW, Fortran, L-Edit, AutoCAD, instrumentation and data acquisition, SolidWorks, and RF circuit simulation (Genesys).


Bachelor’s Degree: Physics (cum laude), University of California at San Diego, CA (1994)

Doctoral Degree: Biophysics and Computational Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, IL (2000)

Research Experience

Principal Member of Technical Staff, Biosensors and Nanomaterial Dept., Sandia National Laboratories (2005-Present)

Senior Member of Technical Staff, Microsensor Science and Technology Dept., Sandia National Laboratories (2002-2005)

Postdoctoral Appointee, Microsensor Science and Technology Dept., Sandia National Laboratories (2000-2002)

Graduate Research Assistant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1998-2000)

Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1995-1998)

Career Highlights

PI on Sensor-Kinesis CRADA, developing a commercial biosensor product based on Sandia’s SH-SAW technology (2016-Present) PI on Cognos Therapeutics CRADA, developing an in-vivo drug microdispensing delivery device (2017-Present) PI on Qorvo CRADA, developing a commercial biosensor product based on BAW technology (2014-Present) Lead on the measurement approach for the Barking Sands project with DSA customer Developed approaches to eliminate spurious responses in aluminum nitride microresonators for PUMA sponsor. Contributor on LDRD, “Programmable piezoelectric filters.” Contributor on DARPA project, “RF-Programmable RF Acoustic Filter Elements.” Lead on the simulation effort and design of aluminum nitride microresonators for filter and resonator applications including devices with metamaterials properties. Contributor on MESO Dynamics/NOMS (DARPA) for dispersion engineering in aluminum nitride filters. Contributor on Smart-cut PUMA (DSA) for high electromechanical coupling materials for low insertion loss wide-band filters applications. Developed an acoustic based materials characterization system. Key developer of the SH-SAW biodetection system. Developed 10 copyrighted computational codes to simulate and design acoustic wave devices and transducers. This includes effective permittivity methods (non-FEM) for fast computation of modes and velocities in acoustic materials. Developed an optical TIRF system to detect viruses. Co-investigator on NIH project, “Acid-fast bacilli smear for drug resistance detection and surveillance in mycobacterium tuberculosis.” Developed technique to non-destructively test the performance of acoustic mass sensors. Contributor on Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) R&D project to miniaturize shear-horizontal surface acoustic wave (SH-SAW) sensing platform. PI on LDRD, “Intelligent Front-end Sample Preparation Tool using Acoustic Streaming.” PI on LDRD, “Evanescent Wave Optical Sensors for Liquid Phase Biosensor.” Developed hardware and microfluidic system for acoustic wave detection systems including SH-SAW and thickness shear mode (TSM) devices. Developed chemical conjugation methods to activate surfaces of sensors to achieve specificity of binding.

Honors, Awards, and Memberships

Mission Innovator Award for Technical Impact and Innovation for the Barking Sands Project (2015) R&D 100 Award: Microresonator Filters and Frequency References (2011) R&D 100 Award: Acoustic Wave Biosensors for Rapid Point-of-Care Medical Diagnostics (2010) Sandia National Laboratories Employee Recognition Award, for Excellence in Commercial Partnerships (2002) Reviewer for Siemens National Science Competition (2001-Present) Reviewer of technical articles for American Chemical Society (ACS), Applied Physics Letters (APL), Journal of Acoustic Society of America (JASA) and IEEE Journals (1998 – Present)

Patents Granted Patents

Miniature acoustic wave lysis system and uses thereof; #9,512,421 B1 (2016) Microresonator electrode design; #9,337,800 B1 (2016) Programmable electroacoustic filter apparatus and method for its manufacture; #9,276,557 (2016) Microfluidic device for acoustic cell lysis; 9,096,823 B1 (2015) High-frequency shear horizontal surface acoustic wave sensor, 8,669,688 B1 (2014) Detection of bioagents using a shear horizontal surface acoustic wave biosensor, 8,709,791 B2 (2014) Lateral acoustic wave resonator comprising a suspended membrane of low damping resonator material, 8,525,619 B1 (2013)  Microfabricated particle focusing device; 8,425,749 B1 (2013) High-Frequency shear horizontal surface acoustic wave sensor; 8,436,509 B1 (2013) Active micromixer using surface acoustic wave streaming; 7,942,568 B1 (2011) Simultaneous sample manipulation and sensing using surface acoustic waves; 7,878,063 B1 (2011) Filed Patents Shear horizontal surface acoustic wave (SH-SAW) resonators and arrays thereof (62/205,951); filed August 17th, 2015. Methods for suppressing spurious modes in microresonators (62/214,689); filed September 9th, 2015. Microfluidic Package and Method of Making the Same, (62/388,731) Mitigation of spurious flexural modes in aluminum nitride microresonators, (13/649,025)

Copyrighted Software

BAW Viscoelastic Film Simulation v.1.0, SCR# 1673.0 COM Apodized Designer and Simulator v 1.0, SCR# 1672.0 Acoustic Green Function Solver v. 0.8, SCR# 1671.0 BAW Slowness v. 1.1, SCR# 1668.0 BAW1D v. 1.0, SCR# 1667.0 COM Simulator – Lamb Wave Devices v. 2.1, SCR# 1666.0 COM Simulator – Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) Devices v 1.0, SCR #1665.0 COM SFIT Lamb wave Simulator v 1.0, SCR# 1664.0 SAW Green Function v 0.9, SCR # 1663.0 Love Wave Dispersion Solver v. 1.0, SCR # 1662.0

List of Publications

Conference Presentations