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Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of

Issue 5 • Date Oct. 2009

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Displaying Results 1 - 22 of 22
  • Table of contents

    Page(s): C1 - C4
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    Freely Available from IEEE
  • Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems publication information

    Page(s): C2
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | PDF file iconPDF (39 KB)  
    Freely Available from IEEE
  • A Sensing Device Using Liquid Crystal in a Micropillar Array Supporting Structure

    Page(s): 973 - 982
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1822 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    We present the design of a micropillar array that leads to the formation of stable and uniform liquid crystal (LC) thin films for sensing applications. Photolithography and electroplating methods were employed to fabricate the micropillar array. By using this microfabricated structure, thin films of LC (5CB: 4'-pentyl-4-cyanobiphenyl) were formed and stabilized against gravitational forces and mechanical shock. The geometric profile of the supported LC thin film was simulated by using finite element methods. Orientational ordering transitions of nematic LCs in the supported thin films were used to detect liquid- and vapor-phase analytes via changes in the intensity of light transmitted through the LCs. The LC thin films supported by these microfabricated structures were tested and found to respond to dimethyl methylphosphonate gas. View full abstract»

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  • MEMS Electric-Field Probes for Laboratory Plasmas

    Page(s): 983 - 989
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    This paper presents microfabricated sensors for directly measuring fine-scale plasma parameters in typical laboratory plasmas. Microfabricated probes have the potential to significantly advance basic plasma physics by enabling the measurement of fundamental processes under controlled conditions. Historically, the spatial scales of the finest electromagnetic-field fluctuations in laboratory plasmas have been too small for conventionally fabricated tools to sense. The new probes are arrays of electric-field sensors for measuring Debye-scale structures in the Large Plasma Device (LAPD) at the University of California at Los Angeles. Typical Debye lengths in the LAPD are 25 mum, with electron gyroradii of about twice that value. The probes are constructed of polyimide, chrome, and gold; have electrode widths ranging from 8 to 20 mum; are 23 mum thick; and are spaced 40 mum apart. The probes are wire bonded to a printed circuit board with commercial amplifiers, and the ensemble is placed inside the plasma chamber. The frequency response of the measurement system extends to 1 GHz. The probes have been used to measure the electric fields of interesting structures in the LAPD. View full abstract»

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  • A Liquid–Solid Direct Contact Low-Loss RF Micro Switch

    Page(s): 990 - 997
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    This paper reports the design, fabrication, and testing of a liquid-metal (LM) droplet-based radio-frequency microelectromechanical systems (RF MEMS) shunt switch with dc-40 GHz performance. The switch demonstrates better than 0.3 dB insertion loss and 20 dB isolation up to 40 GHz, achieving significant improvements over previous LM-based RF MEMS switches. The improvement is attributed to use of electrowetting on dielectric (EWOD) as a new actuation mechanism, which allows design optimized for RF switching. A two-droplet design is devised to solve the biasing problem of the actuation electrode that would otherwise limit the performance of a single-droplet design. The switch design uses a microframe structure to accurately position the liquid-solid contact line while also absorbing variations in deposited LM volumes. By sliding the liquid-solid contact line electrostatically through EWOD, the switch demonstrates bounceless switching, low switch-on time (60 mus), and low power consumption (10 nJ per cycle). View full abstract»

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  • A Nanoparticle Doped Micro-Geiger Counter for Multispecies Radiation Detection

    Page(s): 998 - 1003
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    This paper reports on a multichannel radiation detection platform enabled with nanoparticles that is capable of detecting and discriminating all types of radiation emitted from fissionable bomb making materials. Typical Geiger counters are limited to detecting only beta and gamma radiation. The micro-Geiger counter reported here detects all species of radiation including beta particles, gamma/X rays, alpha particles, and neutrons. The multispecies detecting micro-Geiger counter contains a hermetically sealed and electrically biased fill gas. Impinging radiation interacts with tailored nanoparticles to release secondary charged particles that ionize the fill gas. The ionized particles collect on respectively biased electrodes resulting in a characteristic electrical pulse. Pulse height spectroscopy and radiation energy binning techniques can then be used to analyze the pulses to determine the specific radiation isotope. The ideal voltage range of operation for energy discrimination was found to be in the proportional region at 1000 Vdc. In this region, specific pulse heights for different radiation species resulted. The amplification region strength which determines the device sensitivity to radiation energy can be tuned with the electrode separation distance. An electrode separation of 0.8 mm produced a count rate of 530 cpm for a 90Sr beta source when compared to an off-the-shelf Geiger counter which produced 1500 cpm. Count rates as high as 15 300 were observed for the same radiation source with electrodes spaced closer than 0.5 mm. By using a novel microinjection ceramic molding and silver paste metallizing process, the batch fabrication of essentially disposable devices can be achieved. View full abstract»

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  • An Electrothermal Tip–Tilt–Piston Micromirror Based on Folded Dual S-Shaped Bimorphs

    Page(s): 1004 - 1015
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    This paper presents the design, optimization, fabrication, and test results of an electrothermally actuated tip-tilt-piston micromirror with a large optical aperture of 1 mm. The fabrication of the device is a combination of thin-film surface micromachining and bulk silicon micromachining based on silicon-on-insulator wafers. The device has 3-DOF of actuations, including rotations around two axes in the mirror plane, and out-of-plane piston actuation. The micromirror shows an optical scan range of plusmn30deg about both x- and y-axes and displaces 480 mum in the z-axis, all at dc voltages that are less than 8 V. Dynamic testing of the micromirror shows that the thermal response time of each actuator is about 10 ms. Resonant frequencies of the piston and rotation motion are 336 and 488 Hz, respectively. The unique structural design of the device ensures that there is no lateral shift for the piston motion and no rotation-axis shift for the rotation scanning. With the large tip-tilt-piston scan ranges and low driving voltage, this type of device is very suitable for biomedical imaging and laser beam steering applications. View full abstract»

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  • A Numerical Fatigue Damage Model for Life Scatter of MEMS Devices

    Page(s): 1016 - 1031
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    This paper presents a fatigue damage model to estimate fatigue lives of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices and account for the effects of topological randomness of material microstructure. For this purpose, the damage mechanics modeling approach is incorporated into a new Voronoi finite-element model (VFEM). The VFEM developed for this investigation is able to consider both intergranular crack initiation (debonding) and propagation stages. The model relates the fatigue life to a damage parameter "D" which is a measure of the gradual material degradation under cyclic loading. The fatigue damage model is then used to investigate the effects of microstructure randomness on the fatigue of MEMS. In this paper, three different types of randomness are considered: (1) randomness in the microstructure due to random shapes and sizes of the material grains; (2) the randomness in the material properties considering a normally (Gaussian) distributed elastic modulus; and (3) the randomness in the material properties considering a normally distributed resistance stress, which is the experimentally determined material property controlling the ability of a material to resist the damage accumulation. Thirty-one numerical models of MEMS specimens are considered under cyclic axial and bending loading conditions. It is observed that the stress-life results obtained are in good agreement with the experimental study. The effects of material inhomogeneity and internal voids are numerically investigated. View full abstract»

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  • Optimization of Comb-Driven Devices for Mechanical Testing of Polymeric Nanofibers Subjected to Large Deformations

    Page(s): 1032 - 1046
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1183 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Comb-driven electrostatic actuators applied to mechanical testing of nanostructures are usually designed by a ldquobrute-forcerdquo approach for maximum electrostatic-force output, which results in limited actuation range. This issue is more prevalent when testing soft nanofibers with large ductility. In this paper, the design considerations for a comb-driven platform for nanoscale mechanical testing of ductile nanofibers subjected to 50%, or larger, inelastic extensions are presented. The optimization carried out aimed at increasing the net-force output by comb drives with clamped-clamped tethers, which also improves on the accuracy in the calculation of the force that is applied onto the nanofiber specimens. At large actuator motions, tethers of low bending stiffness increased the net force applied to a nanofiber and provided better accuracy in the calculation of the applied force. On the contrary, at small actuator motions, the maximum net-force output by the comb drives increased with the axial tether stiffness due to the associated increase in the pull-in-instability voltage. The fabricated surface-micromachined devices enabled experiments with individual electrospun polyacrylonitrile nanofibers at a maximum force of 30 muN and extensions up to 60%. The force output calculated from the voltage input to the electrostatic devices was compared to direct measurements by an independent optical method. [2008-0252] View full abstract»

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  • Dual-Chirality Helical Nanobelts: Linear-to-Rotary Motion Converters for Three-Dimensional Microscopy

    Page(s): 1047 - 1053
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    A linear-to-rotary motion converter is demonstrated using 3-D SiGe/Si dual-chirality helical nanobelts (DCHNBs). Analytical and experimental investigation shows that the motion conversion has excellent linearity for small deflections. The conversion ratios of displacement and load for a SiGe/Si DCHNB (an 8-nm-thick Si0.6Ge0.4 and a 10-nm-thick Si layer) are found to be 171.3deg/mum and 2.110 times 10-6 Nmiddotm/N, respectively. The stiffness (0.033 N/m) is much smaller than that of bottom-up synthesized helical nanostructures, which is promising for high-resolution force measurement in nanoelectromechanical systems. To perform torque measurement, two atomic force microscope cantilevers are used for simultaneous characterization of axial and radial properties of the same nanostructure. An application related to 3-D imaging is shown in a scanning electron microscope. The ultracompact size makes it possible for DCHNBs to serve as rotary stages for creating 3-D scanning probe microscopes or microgoniometers. View full abstract»

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  • Characterization of High-Pressure \hbox {XeF}_{2} Vapor-Phase Silicon Etching for MEMS Processing

    Page(s): 1054 - 1061
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    Typical release for structures in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices requires the use of sacrificial layers and wet etchants. As an alternative, bulk Si can be utilized for nonsilicon MEMS or structures as the sacrificial material when exposed to vapor-phase XeF2 . This paper presents the results of using relatively high pressures (> 3.0 torr) for the purpose of MEMS processing, while characterizing the physical etching mechanism and its effects on the working Si substrate in relation to the allowed processing time. The observed etch rates for high-pressure release varied from 1.6 to 1.9 mum/min for applied pressures of 4.5-5.5 torr. The resulting roughness is shown to be primarily dependent on time, where the maximum average roughness is approximately 1.4 mum after 3000 s at 5.5 torr. Slightly anisotropic results are produced by the increased pressures, showing a 0.7 : 1.0 (vertical : lateral) etch rate, as well as some detrimental effects to the released structures. Furthermore, the use of etch windows are investigated in relation to etch rate when subjected to these high pressures. View full abstract»

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  • Wafer-Scale Microtensile Testing of Thin Films

    Page(s): 1062 - 1076
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    This paper reports on the mechanical characterization of thin films using the microtensile technique performed for the first time at the wafer scale. Multiple test structures are processed and sequentially measured on the same silicon substrate, thus eliminating delicate handling of individual samples. The current layout uses 26 test structures evenly distributed over a 4-in wafer, each of them carrying a microtensile specimen that bridges the gap between the fixed and movable parts of the micromachined wafer. A fully automated high-throughput setup makes possible the fast acquisition of data with statistical relevance for the reliable extraction of material properties. The technique was successfully applied to micrometer- and submicrometer-thick films. Two brittle materials, namely, polycrystalline silicon (poly-Si) obtained by low-pressure chemical vapor deposition and silicon nitride (SiNx) produced by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition, and a ductile material, i.e., evaporated aluminum (Al), were characterized. The extraction of the Young's modulus E, tensile strength sigmau, mean tensile strength sigmatildeu, and Weibull modulus m is demonstrated. Young's moduli thus obtained for the poly-Si, SiNx, and Al films were 156.3plusmn 2.6, 112.2plusmn3.5, and 62.5plusmn 2.5 GPa, respectively. The SiNx layers, which have a mean tensile strength sigmatildeu of 2.084-0.177 +0.169 GPa and m=5.9-1.6 +1.8, are the strongest from the fracture point of view when compared to poly-Si with sigmatildeu=1.382-0.026 +0.023 GPa and m=17.3-3.2 +3.5 and Al with sigmatildeu=0.347plusmn0.013 GPa. In each case, the best estimate of the mean and the corresponding 90% confidence interval were evaluated using maximum likelihood estimation and the likelihood ratio method, respectively, on the basis of Gaussian- - and Weibull statistics. View full abstract»

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  • Enhancing Parametric Sensitivity in Electrically Coupled MEMS Resonators

    Page(s): 1077 - 1086
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    In an array of identical resonators coupled through weak springs, a small perturbation in the structural properties of one of the resonators strongly impacts coupled oscillations causing the vibration modes to localize. Theoretical studies show that measuring the variation in eigenstates due to such vibration-mode localization can yield orders of magnitude enhancement in signal sensitivity over the technique of simply measuring induced resonant-frequency shifts. In this paper, we propose the application of mode localization for detecting small perturbations in stiffness in pairs of nearly identical weakly coupled microelectromechanical-system resonators and also examine the effect of initial mechanical asymmetry caused by fabrication tolerances in such sensors. For the first time, the variation in eigenstates is studied by coupling the resonators using electrostatic means that allow for significantly weaker coupling-spring constants and the possibility for stronger localization of vibration modes. Eigenstate variations that are nearly three orders of magnitude greater than the corresponding shifts in the resonant frequency for an induced perturbation in stiffness are experimentally demonstrated. Such high electrically tunable parametric sensitivities, together with the added advantage of intrinsic common-mode rejection, pave the way to a new paradigm of mechanical sensing. View full abstract»

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  • Viscoelastic Characterization and Modeling of Polymer Transducers for Biological Applications

    Page(s): 1087 - 1099
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1627 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is an important polymeric material widely used in bio-MEMS devices such as micropillar arrays for cellular mechanical force measurements. The accuracy of such a measurement relies on choosing an appropriate material constitutive model for converting the measured structural deformations into corresponding reaction forces. However, although PDMS is a well-known viscoelastic material, many researchers in the past have treated it as a linear elastic material, which could result in errors of cellular traction force interpretation. In this paper, the mechanical properties of PDMS were characterized by using uniaxial compression, dynamic mechanical analysis, and nanoindentation tests, as well as finite element analysis (FEA). A generalized Maxwell model with the use of two exponential terms was used to emulate the mechanical behavior of PDMS at room temperature. After we found the viscoelastic constitutive law of PDMS, we used it to develop a more accurate model for converting deflection data to cellular traction forces. Moreover, in situ cellular traction force evolutions of cardiac myocytes were demonstrated by using this new conversion model. The results presented by this paper are believed to be useful for biologists who are interpreting similar physiological processes. View full abstract»

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  • Microsized Piston-Cylinder Pneumatic and Hydraulic Actuators Fabricated by Lithography

    Page(s): 1100 - 1104
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (570 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Future microrobotic applications require actuators that can generate a high actuation force in a limited volume. Up to now, little research has been performed on the development of pneumatic or hydraulic microactuators, although they offer great prospects in achieving high force densities. In addition, large actuation strokes and high actuation speeds can be achieved by these actuators. This paper describes a fabrication process for piston-cylinder pneumatic and hydraulic actuators based on etching techniques, UV-definable polymers, and low-temperature bonding. Prototype actuators with a piston area of 0.15 mm2 have been fabricated in order to validate the production process. These actuators achieve actuation forces of more than 0.1 N and strokes of 750 mum using pressurized air or water as driving fluid. View full abstract»

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  • A Model for Electrostatic Actuation in Conducting Liquids

    Page(s): 1105 - 1117
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1263 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This paper presents a generalized model that describes the behavior of micromachined electrostatic actuators in conducting liquids and provides a guideline for designing electrostatic actuators to operate in aqueous electrolytes such as biological media. The model predicts static actuator displacement as a function of device parameters and applied frequency and potential for the typical case of negligible double-layer impedance and dynamic response. Model results are compared to the experimentally measured displacement of electrostatic comb-drive and parallel-plate actuators and exhibit good qualitative agreement with experimental observations. The model is applied to show that the pull-in instability of a parallel-plate actuator is frequency dependent near the critical frequency for actuation and can be eliminated for any actuator design by tuning the applied frequency. In addition, the model is applied to establish a frequency-dependent theoretical upper bound on the voltage that can be applied across passivated electrodes without electrolysis. View full abstract»

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  • Waveform Design Methods for Piezo Inkjet Dispensers Based on Measured Meniscus Motion

    Page(s): 1118 - 1125
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1083 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Waveform design methods for piezo inkjet dispensers based on measured meniscus motion are presented. The meniscus motion is measured from charge-coupled-device camera images wherein strobe lights from light-emitting diodes are synchronized with the jetting signal. Waveforms for the piezo dispenser are designed such that the number of experiments can be significantly reduced compared to conventional methods. Furthermore, the designed waveform can also be evaluated by the measured meniscus motion since the motion is directly related to jetting behavior. View full abstract»

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  • Analysis of Hybrid Electrothermomechanical Microactuators With Integrated Electrothermal and Electrostatic Actuation

    Page(s): 1126 - 1136
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (871 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    The goal of this paper is to integrate electrothermal and electrostatic actuations in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). We look at cases where these two types of actuation are intimately coupled and argue that such integrated electrothermomechanical (ETM) microactuators have more advantages than pure electrothermal or electrostatic devices. We further propose a framework to model hybrid ETM actuation to get a consistent solution for the coupled mechanical, thermal, and electrical fields in the steady state. Employing a Lagrangian approach, the inhomogeneous current conduction equation is used to describe the electric potential, while the thermal and displacement fields are obtained by solving the nonlinear heat conduction equation and by performing a large deformation mechanical analysis, respectively. To preserve numerical accuracy and reduce computational time, we also incorporate a boundary integral formulation to describe the electric potential in the medium surrounding the actuator. We show through the example of a hybrid double-beam actuator that ETM actuation results in low-voltage low-power operation that could be used for switching applications in MEMS. We also extend the same device toward bidirectional actuation and demonstrate how it may be used to overcome common problems like stiction that occur in MEMS switches. View full abstract»

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  • A Computational Design Methodology for Assembly and Actuation of Thin-Film Structures via Patterning of Eigenstrains

    Page(s): 1137 - 1148
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (890 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    We develop a computational approach to design 3-D structures that can be fabricated and then assembled and/or actuated by spatially tailoring the layout of multilayer films with eigenstrains. Eigenstrains are stress-free strains when they occur in an unconstrained solid. They are almost an inevitable companion, albeit often unwanted, of thin-film processes. When they vary through the thickness, the constraint of the layers leads to internal stresses and bending and buckling deformations can occur; when they additionally vary in the plane of the film, more complex deformations can result. To advantageously use this phenomenon, we build on relatively simple mechanics ideas in a continuum formulation and combine geometrically nonlinear finite-element analysis of arbitrary-shaped multilayer films with a topology optimization methodology to determine the material layout in each layer so the film deforms into a prescribed shape. We expand our previous experimentally validated approach to include initially curved films and anisotropic eigenstrains. Using an extended system formulation for directly computing instability points allows us to tailor postbuckling response while explicitly controlling the design at limit and bifurcation points. We demonstrate the potential and versatility of our approach by applying it to a series of problems of contemporary and emerging interest. View full abstract»

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  • Characterization of Stiction Accrual in a MEMS

    Page(s): 1149 - 1159
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    Stiction remains one of the chief reliability concerns for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices. In this paper, we quantify and analyze the rate of accrual of stiction in a standard MEMS device under a set of controlled temperature and humidity splits. An accelerated aging system was employed to more rapidly induce stiction in the MEMS. Optical characterization techniques were used to study the progression of stiction. The stiction accrual was quantified in terms of stiction equivalent energy, which provides compensation for mechanical fatigue in the devices due to long periods of operation. The fastest accrual of stiction was seen in the 90degC, 80% relative humidity (RH) split with approximately 80% of the MEMS elements failing within 4.4 times 109 cycles (10 h) with 2.7 times 10-14 Joules of stiction equivalent energy while the 60degC, 20% RH showed the least stiction accrual rate with less than 2% failure for 2.26 times 1012 cycles (1500 h). In general, the stiction was seen to increase with an increase in humidity while mechanical fatigue showed an increase with an increase in temperature. Atomic force microscopy topography imaging was used to assess physical wear at the contacting areas. The results revealed that there were not any discernable changes in the surface profile due to long periods of actuation. View full abstract»

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  • 2010 Solid-state, actuator and microsystems workshop, Hilton Head

    Page(s): 1160
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | PDF file iconPDF (411 KB)  
    Freely Available from IEEE
  • MEMS2010 Hong Kong

    Page(s): C3
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | PDF file iconPDF (400 KB)  
    Freely Available from IEEE

Aims & Scope

The topics of interest include, but are not limited to: devices ranging in size from microns to millimeters, IC-compatible fabrication techniques, other fabrication techniques, measurement of micro phenomena, theoretical results, new materials and designs, micro actuators, micro robots, micro batteries, bearings, wear, reliability, electrical interconnections, micro telemanipulation, and standards appropriate to MEMS. Application examples and application oriented devices in fluidics, optics, bio-medical engineering, etc., are also of central interest.

Full Aims & Scope

Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Christofer Hierold
ETH Zürich, Micro and Nanosystems