Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) is the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate through microfabrication technology. While the electronics are fabricated using integrated circuit (IC) process sequences (e.g., CMOS, Bipolar, or BICMOS processes), the micromechanical components are fabricated using compatible "micromachining" processes that selectively etch away parts of the silicon wafer or add new structural layers to form the mechanical and electromechanical devices.
MEMS promises to revolutionize nearly every product category by bringing together silicon-based microelectronics with micromachining technology, making possible the realization of complete systems-on-a-chip. MEMS is an enabling technology allowing the development of smart products, augmenting the computational ability of microelectronics with the perception and control capabilities of microsensors and microactuators and expanding the space of possible designs and applications.
Microelectronic integrated circuits can be thought of as the "brains" of a system and MEMS augments this decision-making capability with "eyes" and "arms", to allow microsystems to sense and control the environment. Sensors gather information from the environment through measuring mechanical, thermal, biological, chemical, optical, and magnetic phenomena. The electronics then process the information derived from the sensors and through some decision making capability direct the actuators to respond by moving, positioning, regulating, pumping, and filtering, thereby controlling the environment for some desired outcome or purpose. Because MEMS devices are manufactured using batch fabrication techniques similar to those used for integrated circuits, unprecedented levels of functionality, reliability, and sophistication can be placed on a small silicon chip at a relatively low cost.
MEMS in space
The satellite industry could experience its biggest revolution since it joined the ranks of commerce, thanks to some of the smallest machines in existence. Researchers are performing experiments designed to convince the aerospace industry that microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) could open the door to low-cost, high-reliability, mass-produced satellites.
MEMS combine conventional semiconductor electronics with beams, gears, levers, switches, accelerometers, diaphragms, microfluidic thrusters, and heat controllers, all of them microscopic in size."We can do a whole new array of things with MEMS that cannot be done any other way," said Henry Helvajian, a senior scientist with Aerospace Corp., a nonprofit aerospace research and development organization in El Segundo, Calif.
Microelectromechanical Systems, or MEMS, are integrated micro devices or systems combining electrical and mechanical components. They are fabricated using integrated circuit (IC) batch processing techniques and can range in size from micrometers to millimeters. These systems can sense, control and actuate on the micro scale, and function individually or in arrays to generate effects on the macro scale.
MEMS is an enabling technology and current applications include accelerometers, pressure, chemical and flow sensors, micro-optics, optical scanners, and fluid pumps. Generally a satellite consists of battery, internal state sensors, communication systems and control units. All these can be made of MEMS so that size and cost can be considerably reduced. Also small satellites can be constructed by stacking wafers covered with MEMS and electronics components. These satellites are called 'I' Kg class satellites or Picosats. These satellites having high resistance to radiation and vibration compared to conventional devices can be mass-produced there by reducing the cost. These can be used for various space applications.
Also small satellites can be constructed by stacking wafers covered with MEMS and electronics components. These satellites are called 'I' Kg
Although MEMS devices are extremely small MEMS technology is not about size. Instead, MEMS is a manufacturing technology; a new way of making complex electromechanical systems using batch fabrication techniques similar to the way integrated circuits are made and making these electromechanical elements along with electronics.
The material used for manufacturing MEMS is Silicon. Silicon possesses excellent materials properties making it an attractive choice for many high-performance mechanical applications (e.g. the strength-to-weight ratio for silicon is higher than many other engineering materials allowing very high bandwidth mechanical devices to be realized).
Components of MEMS
Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) is the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate through the utilization of micro fabrication technology. MEMS is truly an enabling technology allowing the development of smart products by augmenting the computational ability of microelectronics with the perception and control capabilities of micro sensors and micro actuators