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Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) is the technology of the very small, yet not within the realm of Molecular nanotechnology.

MEMS devices refer to mechanical components on the micrometre size and include 3D lithographic features of various geometries. They are typically manufactured using planar processing similar to semiconductor processes such as surface micromachining and/or bulk micromachining . These devices generally range in size from a micrometre (a millionth of a metre) to a millimetre (thousandth of a metre). At these size scales, a human's intuitive sense of physics do not always hold true. Due to MEMS' large surface area to volume ratio, surface effects such as electrostatics and wetting dominate volume effects such as inertia or thermal mass. They are fabricated using modified silicon fabrication technology (used to make electronics), molding and plating, electro discharge machining (EDM), and other technologies capable of manufacturing very small devices.

Companies with strong MEMS programs come in many sizes. The larger firms specialize in manufacturing high volume inexpensive components or packaged solutions for end markets such as automobiles, biomedical, and electronics. The successful small firms provide value in innovative solutions and absorb the expense of custom fabrication with high sales margins. In addition, both large and small companies work in R&D to explore MEMS technology.

Common applications include inkjet printers, which uss piezoelectrics or bubble ejection to deposit ink on paper, accelerometers in modern cars for airbag deployment in collisions, car tyre pressure sensors, and disposable blood pressure sensors. The DMD chip in a projector based on DLP technology has on its surface several hundred thousand micromirrors. MEMS sometimes go by the names micromechanics, micro machines, or micro system technology (MST). MEMS technology is used for optical switching technology for data communications, and is part of the emerging technology of smartdust.

Finite element analysis is an important part of MEMS design.

External links

  • An Early History of Silicon Sensors
  • Image Gallery of Microscopic MEMS Machines
  • Movie Gallery of Functioning MEMS
  • Sources of books, conferences and companies
  • Tutorials on MEMS
  • Links to MEMS pages

Last updated: 02-08-2005 14:02:57
Last updated: 02-26-2005 04:35:44