How The Technologies Developed: Modern MEMS Technologies And How It Used To Work Before

laser scanning projector

MEMS technology is now used in a wide range of high-performance electronic devices. It enables the miniaturization and integration of mechanical structures into electronic circuits. As a result of its emergence, many mechanisms can now be made more efficient, at a lower cost, and in less time. Which facts from MEMS development history do you know?

Replacing heavy, bulky industrial radio and electrical structures seemed like a myth a century ago. Nonetheless, with the advent of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), it has now become a reality. Now they are used as a part of laser scanning mirrors, laser scanning projectors or 2d mirrors.

What Is MEMS And Its Application Today?

Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) are small systems that serve a variety of purposes. They can be made of different materials:

  • Biomaterials;
  • Ceramics;
  • Ferroelectric materials;
  • Magnetic materials;
  • Plastics;
  • Semiconductors.

These small systems are now part of:

  • Accelerometers;
  • Actuators;
  • Analytical micro labs;
  • Hydraulic and pneumatic valves;
  • An inkjet nozzles of a printer;
  • Game controllers;
  • Sensors;
  • Light reflectors;
  • Motors;
  • Pumps;
  • Switches,
  • Turbines, etc.

Key Milestones In MEMS Development History

In 1965, Gordon Moore, a well-known American engineer, made an observation based on the development of transistors in the 1940s. As a result, he predicted that the primary focus in the future would be on reducing the size of devices.

It is the point at which MEMS can be considered to have been born. Since then, there have been many attempts to make techniques smaller and smaller. MEMS devices have been developed in a variety of industries. MEMS technology development history can be divided into the following stages.

Research Stage (from the mid-50s to the early 60s)

At this point, the primary efforts to shape future technology are made by scientific divisions of large corporations, industrial corporations, and academic science. The primary emphasis was put on dual-use technologies that were in high demand during the Cold War, specifically – the development of accurate and inexpensive sensors of various types suitable for mass production.

The First Integrated Circuit appeared around this time, which included not only transistors, but also resistors, capacitors, and wires.

Powerful Industrial Stage (from the early 60s to early 90s)

It was associated with leading military-industrial firms such as Fairchild, Westinghouse, and Honeywell, which were eager to commercialize the first experimental developments. This process took a long time, but by the early 1970s, academic science started receiving targeted funding from industry to solve the problems of lowering the cost and broadening the applications of MEMS devices.

During this time, the world saw the following inventions:

  • The resonant gate transistor;
  • The microprocessor;
  • The first silicone pressure sensor;
  • Hewlett Parker’s micromachined inkjet nozzles;
  • The atomic force microscope (AFM);
  • The rotary electrostatic side drive motors;
  • The first crash sensor;
  • The deformable grating light modulator (GLM).

Micromachine Production Stage (from the late 90s to present days)

It is distinguished by significant advances in the MEMS development industry and the appearance of complex mechanisms, such as:

  • The first high-volume manufactured accelerometer;
  • The polysilicon hinge;
  • The carbon nanotube;
  • The first MEMS optical network switch.

Many experts believe that combining silicon-based microelectronics with micromechanical technology, which allows for implementing the system on a single SoC chip (Systems-on-a-Chip), will result in revolutionary changes in each area where it is used. Thus, for example, MEMS technology has accelerated the development of inertial navigation systems and integrated systems, paving the way for the development of “smart” products by increasing the computational capabilities of micro-sensors and expanding the design capabilities of such systems.

Scientists have been working to improve and develop more advanced MEMS since the invention of the first transistor. These elements now control the vast majority of techniques and network operations. This demonstrates their infinite variety of applications and importance in people’s daily lives.