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Simulation tools as part of a virtual prototyping environment enable scientists and design engineers to answer "what-if" questions before actual costly experimentation and physical prototyping. Over the last 40 years, there has been an explosion in the use of simulation tools to predict electrical, thermal, and mechanical behavior of materials and the reliability of devices that contain microsystems. These tools are based on classical continuum mechanics (e.g., the finite element method), atomistic mechanics [e.g., classical molecular dynamics (MD)], or quantum mechanics (e.g., the density functional method). Figure 1 details the lengths and timescales at which each of these tools should be used.
Date of Publication: June 2009