Introduction in MEMS

Skills for very small ninjas

MicroElectroMechanical Systems or MEMS are as part of micro system technology, systems with electrical and mechanical subsystems at the micro scale. It is basically an introduction in the technology and in its potential for hardware hacks and potential ways of homebrew devices.

Compared to a micro processor, a small sensor or actuator, which normally consists of just one function a micro system combines the data acquisition, processing, and forwarding in itself. If this micro system now contains mechanical part to interact with its environment it is considered to be a MEMS. With constantly increasing experience in MEMS manufacturing the prices per system dropped and the use of the highly sophisticated devices move from strictly automotive, R&D and military applications into consumer products. The wiimote and the iPhone are just two well known products which improve the user experience by the intelligent use of the smart systems. The delay of invention and market introduction of MEMS is mostly caused by the substantial investments to be done to produce this kind of device. The most technologies commonly used until now are transfered from the microchip manufacturing. The so called silicon micromachining uses silicon single crystal disks (Wafers) in combination with batch lithography and etch processing to form the today available systems. This limitation to very difficult and expensive processes restricts the potential manufacture to companies already in the semiconductor business or companies with huge financial backup. Further more the limitation to a very few materials slows down the whole development in the micro scale because of the laking design freedom for the system developer. This is the reason that researcher all over the world try to move from Si to alternative material and work out processes and combination out of those that allow further miniaturization, bigger material lineup, dramatically decrease in investment costs.This talk is giving you an overview of available MEMS, there processes and restriction as well as future developments and the possibility of start of your own MEMS farm.