- MEMs are Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Devices, which integrate mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate through micro-fabrication technology.
- MEMs are working machines around the size of a grain of pollen.
- 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.
- Applications include airbag controls, inkjet printers, optical switches, and gyroscopes.
- MEMS became practical once they could be fabricated using modified semiconductor fabrication technologies.
- MEMs are beneficial because they are smaller, cheaper, and faster!
- For more information see material such as the book: MEMs: A Practical Guide to Design, Analysis, and Applications.
MEMs and NASA
Studies are establishing the use of MEMs in the following for NASA:
- Vibratory Micro-gyroscope
- Lithographie Galvanoformung Abformung (LIGA)-based device
- Micro-propulsion device
- Adaptive Optics
- Biomedical Devices
- System on a chip
With all the advantages that COTS procurement can provide, there are still issues that prevent the widespread use of COTS MEMs at NASA.
- Issues include: reliability, packaging, compatibility, and standardization.
- MEMs concerns include packaging, reliability, compatibility, interconnect issues, and standardization.
It is often stated that there is no standard process in MEMs. ASTM, SEMI, and IEEE now publish MEM standards.