MEMS and NEMS Devices
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) have proven that making things smaller, faster and cheaper is good business. Typically fabricated with micron dimensions (10-6 m), current day MEMS devices include accelerometers for air bag deployment, ink-jet printing nozzles, pressure sensors, and microfluidic devices that can separate and analyze minute quantities of chemicals. Now with nanofabrication capabilities, nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) are being fabricated as mass detectors with the ability to weigh single molecules; as high-frequency resonators with sensitivities up to one billion cycles per second; as ultra-fast, low-power switches; and as integrated microfluidic devices capable of separating, manipulating, and analyzing individual human cells. At the nanoscale, conventional interactions like surface tension, temperature and electrical properties change, and new forces like quantum friction and quantum elasticity bring new opportunities to the engineer’s tool kit.