Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS, also written as micro-electro-mechanical, Microelectromechanical or microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems and the related micro mechatronics) is the technology of microscopic devices, particularly those with moving parts. It merges at the Nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and nanotechnology. MEMS are also referred to as micro machines in Japan, or micro systems technology (MST) in Europe.

MEMS are made up of components between 1 and 100 micrometers in size (i.e., 0.001 to 0.1 mm), and MEMS devices generally range in size from 20 micrometers to a millimeter (i.e., 0.02 to 1.0 mm), although components arranged in arrays (e.g., digital micro mirror devices) can be more than 1000 mm2. They usually consist of a central unit that processes data (the microprocessor) and several components that interact with the surroundings such as micro sensors. Because of the large surface area to volume ratio of MEMS, forces produced by ambient electromagnetism (e.g., electrostatic charges and magnetic moments), and fluid dynamics (e.g., surface tension and viscosity) are more important design considerations than with larger scale mechanical devices. MEMS technology is distinguished from molecular nanotechnology or molecular electronics in that the latter must also consider surface chemistry.

The potential of very small machines was appreciated before the technology existed that could make them (see, for example, Richard Feynman’s famous 1959 lecture There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom). MEMS became practical once they could be fabricated using modified semiconductor device fabrication technologies, normally used to make electronics. These include molding and plating, wet etching (KOH, TMAH) and dry etching (RIE and DRIE), electro discharge machining (EDM), and other technologies capable of manufacturing small devices. An early example of a MEMS device is the resonator, an electromechanical monolithic resonator patented by Raymond J. Wilfing, and the resonant gate transistor developed by Harvey C. Nathan son.

MEMS can be smaller than the width of a human hair and may include several components such as:

  • Microsensors
  • Microactuators
  • Microprocessors
  • Central units for processing data
  • Components for interacting with exterior elements

MEMS have a large surface area to volume ratio and are constructed using silicon fabrication technology.

A MEMS device includes microcircuitry that is placed on a small silicon chip used with mechanical components. The technology supports a large variety of devices that control, sense or activate mechanical processes while functioning as an array or individually.

Presently, MEMS encompass a single distinct Microsensors or Microactuators into their architecture, but more complex levels of assimilation may occur in the future. The next development may be to incorporate many individual features into one system.

Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) are a class of devices integrating electrical and mechanical functionality on the nanoscale. NEMS form the logical next miniaturization step from so-called microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS devices. NEMS typically integrate transistor-like nanoelectronics with mechanical actuators, pumps, or motors, and may thereby form physical, biological, and chemical sensors. The name derives from typical device dimensions in the nanometer range, leading to low mass, high mechanical resonance frequencies, potentially large quantum mechanical effects such as zero point motion, and a high surface-to-volume ratio useful for surface-based sensing mechanisms. Uses include accelerometers, or detectors of chemical substances in the air.

Now, what is Acamech doing?

Acamech provides feasible and high-performing scientific simulations for mechanical systems. Acamech’s fields expertise are in Energy Conversion, Multi-Phase Flow, Nano Technology, Micro and Nano Electro Mechanical Systems, as well as Fluid-Structure interaction.

Acamech’s provides education and training, as well as consultations in these scientific fields. It also teams up with other scientific centers and individual scientists, on specific applied studies.

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