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The packaging of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoscale devices constitutes an important area of research and development that is vital to the commercialization of such devices. Packaging needs of these devices include interfaces to nonelectronic domains; integration of structures, devices, and subsystems made with incompatible fabrication processes into a single platform; and the ability to handle a very large numbers of parts. Although serial, robotic assembly methods such as pick-and-place have allowed significant manufacturing feats, self-assembly is an attractive option to tackle packaging issues as the size of individual parts decreases below 300 μm. In this paper, we review advances made in the usage of self-assembly for packaging and potential directions that growth in this area can assume. In the micrometer scale, we review the use of capillary forces, gravity, shape recognition, and electric fields to guide two- and three-dimensional self-assembly processes. In the nanoscale, we survey the usage of self-assembled molecular monolayers to solve current packaging issues, DNA hybridization for guiding self-assembly processes of nanoscale devices, and methods used to package nanowires or nanotubes into electronic circuits. We conclude with an example of a nanoscale biosensor which directly incorporates the concept of its package into its fabrication process. Even though the idea of a fully self-packaging system has not been demonstrated to date, the body of work reviewed and discussed here presents a solid foundation for the pursuit of this goal.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2005