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Single-crystal silicon is being increasingly employed in a variety of new commercial products not because of its well-established electronic properties, but rather because of its excellent mechanical properties. In addition, recent trends in the engineering literature indicate a growing interest in the use of silicon as a mechanical material with the ultimate goal of developing a broad range of inexpensive, batch-fabricated, high-performance sensors and transducers which are easily interfaced with the rapidly proliferating microprocessor. This review describes the advantages of employing silicon as a mechanical material, the relevant mechanical characteristics of silicon, and the processing techniques which are specific to micromechanical structures. Finally, the potentials of this new technology are illustrated by numerous detailed examples from the literature. It is clear that silicon will continue to be aggressively exploited in a wide variety of mechanical applications complementary to its traditional role as an electronic material. Furthermore, these multidisciplinary uses of silicon will significantly alter the way we think about all types of miniature mechanical devices and components.