Most people refer to the 21st century as the century of technological advancement. During this period, various new technologies have hit the market ranging from VR to AR and the Meta Verse. However, taking a step back a couple of years, we can see the advancement of tech over time. For starters, technicians have found a way to make gadgets smaller or even minuscule. Computers that hit the market when they were gigantic (they filled an entire room) now come in versions that fit perfectly in our laps. Moreover, even with their minuscule physical appearance, modern-day computers are even more powerful than traditional computers.
Another crucial type of miniature tech is known as MEMS (micro-electromechanical system). MEMS is a tiny or minuscule gadget that bears electronic and mechanical components. When mass-produced, these gadgets are scalable in manufacturing, resulting in low production costs (per unit). Moreover, they possess impeccable sensitivity, making them applicable in many areas. These features and advantages are just the tip of the iceberg in MEMS applications and what makes them unique. But are they the only features that make this technology one of a kind? And if not, which features set MEMS apart from other types of machines?
MEMS in a Nutshell
MEMS is an acronym that means Micro Electro Mechanical Systems. These machines also go by the names:
- Microsystems technology
Moreover, MEMS is a general term that technicians utilize to refer to micro-fabrication mechanisms, methods, and designs that involve generating moving mechanical components at a microscopic scale.
Generally, MEMS deals with transforming bulky traditional mechanical systems into miniature, mass-producible, and better-performing alternatives. These alternatives are also analogous to what semiconductor and IC (integrated circuit) technologies have done to electronics and electrical systems.
Due to their efficiency, power, and miniature nature, MEMS have a lot of uses which include utilization in various:
- Biomedical systems
- Biochemical systems
- Energy sources
Moreover, some crucial examples of the application of MEMS in engineering various product designs include:
When it comes to developing sensors, MEMS are utilized to generate MEMS tilt Sensors, MEMS pressure sensors, MEMS gyroscopes, and other MEMS resonant sensor versions. These sensors are efficient and function impeccably.
In the development of actuators, MEMS help technicians develop Micro-gripper, micro-levers, micro-pumps, and MEMS switches.
Energy Source and Generators
MEMS also helps in the development of MEMS radioisotope generators, fuel cells, and vibration harvesters of energy.
Biomedical and Biochemical systems
In developing biomedical and biochemical systems, MEMS helps technicians develop particulate sensors, air microfluidics, lab-on-chip, and biosensors.
In terms of developing oscillators, MEMS help in frequency control and accurate timekeeping applications.
Moreover, the fabrication tech morphs into NEMS (Nano electrical, mechanical systems) at even more miniature nanometer scales. Additionally, where MEMS integrates efficiently with other types of tech, various combos can emerge, for example:
- BIOMEMS – the realization of biomedical and biochemical systems on microfabricated gadgets.
- MOEMS – which are micro opto electromechanical systems. These systems also go by the name OptoMEMS, and they are optical systems, for example, micro-mirrors that are efficiently integrated into systems to sense and manipulate light at microscopic scales.
Sensors are crucial components that have multiple applications in the 21st century. Their applications range from medical to industrial applications. However, since every processing and computation occurs via digital signals, a medium has to exist between digital electronics and the analog world. Sensors efficiently bridge the gap that exists between these two components as technicians utilize them to
- Observe temporal effects that exist in analog physical parameters
- Produce meaningful information (which is interpreted by the computer)
The definition of sensors varies from one person to another, and most experts have varying suggestions on this topic. However, the most accurate description of sensors states, “sensors are gadgets that encompass basic sensing elements that efficiently sense physical quantities, for example, humidity and temperature, and then convert this to electrical signals.” Moreover, sensors also encompass SPUs (signal processing units), for example, amplifiers, ADC, filters, or a combo of these components.
MEMS Sensors are sensors that are designed and produced using microelectromechanical systems technology. These sensors go by the name MEMS sensors or simply Micro machined microsensors.
MEMS Sensors Variations
MEMS sensors have multiple applications. However, they are primarily utilized in the automotive sector. That is because modern vehicles use many sensors, most of which are MEMS-based gadgets. Here are a couple of MEMS sensors that you can find in the auto industry:
Temperature sensors – for engine temp monitoring and auto climate control
MEMS Microphone – used for noise cancellation and communication
Crash and Impact Sensor – for airbag deployment and impact detection
Fuel Sensors – used to indicate fuel level
Airflow Sensors – to monitor air intake
Pressure Sensors – to Monitor tire pressure
Inertia and pressure sensors – braking control functionality
These are just a handful of the types of MEMS sensors that you can find in the market today. More MEMS sensor variations exist, and each of them is effective.
Advantages of MEMS
MEMS have a lot of advantages; these advantages include the following:
MEMS are pretty scalable in manufacturing, resulting in lower production costs. Therefore manufacturers sell these products at affordable prices but still gain significant profits.
MEMS sensors have high sensitivity, which makes them efficient in their functionality. That is why technicians utilize them for automotive purposes.
MEMS gadgets utilize less power when functioning. Therefore these reduce the amount of money that goes into running these types of gadgets.
MEMS can easily integrate with different microelectronics to gain embedded mechatronic systems such as microphones.
Disadvantages of MEMS
MEMS are Expensive
Developing and researching any new microelectromechanical system device or design is expensive.
Moreover, the setup cost for foundry and fabrication cleanroom facilities tends to be high.
Assembly and Fabrication Costs
Assembly and Fabrication costs are high per unit when manufacturing low quantities of MEMS. Therefore, MEMS tend to be more suitable for specific niche applications unless you do not have an issue with expenditure.
MEMS are undoubtedly crucial to the modern world. Their existence has made specific sectors more effective, for example, the automotive industry. Moreover, these machines bring a lot of advantages to the table, which include better sensors and efficient gadgets that utilize less power. Therefore, even though they cost a lot of money to develop, they are a worthwhile long-term investment.