About MEMs

  • 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.



Studies are establishing the use of MEMs in the following for NASA:

  • Vibratory Micro-gyroscope
  • Micro-actuators
  • Lithographie Galvanoformung Abformung (LIGA)-based device
  • Micro-propulsion device
  • Micro-Valves
  • Adaptive Optics
  • Biomedical Devices
  • System on a chip
  • Micro-Instruments
  • Packaging


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.


MEMs Standards

It is often stated that there is no standard process in MEMs. ASTM, SEMI, and IEEE now publish MEM standards.