MEMS technology – An introduction

As the name implies, Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) are the integration of Electrical and Mechanical components in a same chip. These systems are made as micro level systems and are integrated. MEMS are made up of components between 1 to 100 micrometres in size.

The micromechanical components are fabricated in a single chip using compatible "micromachining" processes. In this Micromachining process, the single crystal silicon is etched to form three-dimensional MEMS devices. This is a subtractive process in which the silicon in the substrate is specifically removed using anisotropic chemistries. Anisotropic Etching is the one which involves different etch rates in different directions in the material.

The main work in fabricating a MEMS device includes three stages: Miniaturization, Grouping, and Merging

In Miniaturization, the working of the individual devices is alone taken and the size of a coponent is reduced as Micro size. In grouping, the number of components which can be included in  a single chip is increased. The componnets working and the complete device working is merged with Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics components.

One of the famous applications which use MEMS technology is shown below. Freescale Semiconductor has introduced a highly advanced low-power sensor based on proven micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) technology specifically engineered for handheld portable electronic devices.

The 3-axis MMA7660FC accelerometer enhances user interfaces for mobile phones, small appliances and gaming by allowing the user to tap, shake or orient the device for specified commands. The device also includes smart power management features to help extend battery life. 

MEMS-based devices are used in a variety of applications such as in automotive electronics, medical field, hard disk drives, computer peripherals, wireless devices, cell phones,accelerometers, pressure and inertial sensors, miniature robots, and PDAs.

MEMS technology provides the following advantages: cost-efficiency, low power, miniaturization, high performance, and integration. Functionality can be integrated on the same silicon or in the same package, which reduces the component count. This contributes to overall cost savings.

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