INTRODUCTION TO MEMs What is MEMs?

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) (also written as micro-electro-mechanical, MicroElectroMechanical or microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems) is the technology of very small mechanical devices driven by electricity; it merges at the nanoscale into nano electromechanically system and nanotechnology MEMS are also referred to as micro machines (in Japan), or Micro Systems Technology - MST (in Europe). MEMS are separate and distinct from the hypothetical vision of molecular nano technology or molecular electronics. MEMS are made up of components between 1 to 100 micrometers in size (i.e. 0.001 to 0.1 mm) and MEMS devices generally range in size from 20 micrometers (20 millionths of a meter) to a millimeter. They usually consist of a central unit that processes data, the microprocessor and several components that interact with the outside such as micro sensors. What is MEMS Technology? Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems, or MEMS, is a technology that in its most general form can be defined as miniaturized mechanical and electro-mechanical elements (i.e., devices and structures) that are made using the techniques of microfabrication. The critical physical dimensions of MEMS devices can vary from well below one micron on the lower end of the dimensional spectrum, all the way to several millimeters. Likewise, the types of MEMS devices can vary from relatively simple structures having no moving elements, to extremely complex electromechanical systems with multiple moving elements under the control of integrated microelectronics. The one main criterion of MEMS is that there are at least some elements having some sort of mechanical functionality whether or not these elements can move. The term used to define MEMS varies in different parts of the world. In the United States they are predominantly called MEMS, while in some other parts of the world they are called “Microsystems Technology” or “micro machined devices”. While the functional elements of MEMS are miniaturized structures, sensors, actuators, and microelectronics, the most notable (and perhaps most interesting) elements are the micro sensors and micro actuators. Micro sensors and micro actuators are appropriately categorized as “transducers”, which are defined as devices that convert energy from one form to another. In the case of micro sensors, the device typically converts a measured mechanical signal into an electrical signal. GENERAL IMPACT OF MEMS ON DEFENSE APPLICATIONS In general, MEMS are batch fabricated using equipment, processes, and facilities matching those of existing silicon IC manufacturers. This facilitates large volume production of completely self assembled MEMS-based systems. The combination of leveraging the existing IC infrastructure and exploiting large volume production leads to low manufacturing costs typical of those achieved by manufacturers of silicon ICS. This

and control to our defense infrastructure. and microelectronic components to control that motion or to obtain information from that motion. it is necessary for DSTO to be aware of the state of the art and to be ready to take full advantage of their capabilities for the Australian Defense Organization. high-end functionality. inserting MEMS-based IMUS into defense applications is expected increase tactical and strategic advantages to our military through precision strike capabilities and extend the operational performance of defense platforms. etc for MEMS. In the civilian and commercial arenas. Finally. For example. which will be discussed in a subsequent publication. the impact of micro IMUS.will lead to significant reductions defense procurement costs especially in cases where defense systems they are expected to be deployed in significant numbers. safety. other Microsystems such as micro chemical reactors. In civilian and commercial applications. which move to perform certain tasks. The discussion revealed that the primary impact of the insertion of MEMS technologies into US defense systems will be the provision of low cost. power sources. etc). MEMS technology is generally used in a broader sense. RF MEMS systems will provide operational superiority through flexible. technologies associated with MEMS include materials and Processes required making MEMS components. In the United States of America. MEMS offers advantages in many diverse areas . for MEMS. intelligence. Emphasis is given to those aspects of MEMS technology directed towards potential defense applications. micro levers. In a broader sense. mobility. micro thermal systems and smart materials (such as shape memory alloys) are also sometimes included in “MEMS technology” by virtue of their utility in sensors or actuators or as power sources. This document aims to indicate the present state of MEMS technology by briefly discussing some of the publicly available current research. RF MEMS. However. communication. other Microsystems such as micro chemical reactors. mobile communication command and control of military assets. and security to our defense infrastructure. MOEMS are expected to provide enhanced levels of surveillance capabilities. actuators. medical devices and health monitoring. are now available and are becoming more prevalent everyday. actuators. the Defense MEMS devices. such as accelerometers. either directly or through procurement of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) equipment. Consequently. heat sinks. heat sinks. In addition. etc) and applications that use MEMS devices. micro thermal systems and “smart materials” are also usually included by virtue of their utility as sensors. integration of components to make MEMS devices (sensors. In addition. Most civilian or commercial applications will also find applicability in defense. and MOEMS were highlighted. MEMS devices offer many advantages in applications such as automotive control and safety systems. A microelectromechanical system (MEMS) is one that is small (micro-scale) and is a system composed of both micromechanical components (such as micro gears. integration of components to make MEMS devices (sensors. This survey was undertaken as a prelude to a more focused study addressing applications of MEMS in rocket propulsion systems. including the technologies of materials and processes required to make MEMS components. etc. US defense applications. As specific examples. Similarly. etc) and applications that use MEMS devices. satellite control.

there must be sufficient demand for the new device to be profitable. perform the function better than can currently be performed or be cheaper. i. the MEMS device must either fill a capability gap. As an indication of the range of MEMS research currently being pursued. communication. ASME) and the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering (published by the Institute of Physics). i.e. satellite control. there are several journals published regularly. In addition. either directly or through procurement of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) equipment.. however. If the development of a MEMS alternative is to be worthwhile.. it must either perform a new function. For defence. emphasis is given to those aspects of MEMS technology directed towards potential defence applications. including the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems (jointly published by the IEEE and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. information gathering and soldier survivability. it must also be economically viable.e. For commercial applications. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) holds a major international MEMS conference each year and the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) holds several conferences each year. non-MEMS devices often already exist for these applications. The pace of change in MEMS technology is so rapid that the Internet and conference papers are indispensable tools in attempting to keep abreast of current research directions and advances. a general bibliography of recent publications is given at the end of this report. covering specific areas of MEMS technology and applications. Many devices developed for civilian or commercial applications will also find applicability in defence. This document aims to indicate the present state of MEMS technology with possible defence applications by briefly discussing some of the publicly available current research.such as automotive control and safety systems. MEMS technology promises to deliver major advances in areas such as munition guidance. The quantity of work being conducted and published is so large that the scope of this report is limited to information available to the author as . lighter or smaller than currently available devices. medical devices and health monitoring.

Distributed sensing and control applications: 5. Condition-based maintenance (eg. for detection of fuels. for display of maps. arming and fuzing (improve operation. area surveillance. etc). the US Department of Defense conducted an industrial assessment of MEMS [295] in which it was said that “MEMS will create new military capabilities. for digital maps. Applications with Possible Defence Relevance In 1995. This survey was undertaken as a prelude to a more focussed study addressing applications of MEMS in rocket propulsion systems. Identify-friend-or-foe (eg. The weakest areas in terms of technical maturity were identified as [295]: personal/vehicle navigation. shipboard automation. grouped under three major areas [295]: Inertial measurement applications : 1. make highend functionality affordable to low-end military systems. Active structures (eg. 10. 4. Biomedical devices (for monitoring vital signs of combatants and delivering trauma care). safety and reliability of warheads and bomblets. Twelve defence applications were identified. miniature analytical instruments. and extend the operational performance and lifetimes of existing weapons platforms”. Competent munitions (integrate MEMS IMUs into conventional munitions to reduce the dispersion of projectiles on point targets). 7. reducing unexploded ordnance). Platform stabilisation (replace conventional accelerometers and gyroscopes with MEMS devices. reducing cost and power requirements). active conformal surfaces for distributed aerodynamic control of aircraft). 8. Miniature analytical instruments (eg. Information technology applications: 11. Personal/vehicle navigation (use MEMS INUs to augment personnel and vehicle GPS). 9. using modulation of deformable and active surfaces with a smart reflector and secure communications). 2. Weapons safing. explosives. Situational awareness (eg. etc). using embedded sensors and actuators in components of materiel to monitor and report on their condition in real time). . Displays (eg. Mass data storage (eg. 6. manuals for a highly mobile force). drugs or NBC operations). 12. 3.at December 2000 and generally not published before 1999 (apart from some introductory works). distributed unattended sensors for perimeter security.

several technology areas are also emerging which. a Parylene C membrane and are manufactured using MEMS photolithography technology. Another method of mobility mimics the way that sixlegged insects walk [297]. A few hundred “walking cells” are arranged in a hexagonal array. mobility and propulsion. chemical analysis or weapons systems. A piezoelectric microactuator array. which will be the key component of a remotely controlled. They succeeded in lifting a silicon body weighing 1. each cell having a “leg” 300 m high. Three-dimensional burrs have been developed using the LIGA process [298].2 Space There is a DARPA-funded project addressing space applications of MEMS and microtechnology being conducted by Aerospace Corporation [302]. solar-powered microsystem that should be capable of locomotion is described in [296]. The wings are made of cobalt-nickel alloy and rotate in an alternating magnetic field. Microrobots. and mass data storage. will have implications for defence in areas such as communications. wireless. 6.6 mg.10 g and flight durations of 5 – 18 seconds have been achieved. as will be seen below. The University of Tokyo is investigating flight using a vehicle with 2 mm long rotational wings [299. The device could carry sensors for tracking or information gathering. A battery-powered ornithopter (flapping-wing) MAV is being developed with MEMS wings [301]. The legs are actuated using three piezoelectric biomorph beams that allow the leg to reach any position within an ellipsoid. active structures.identify-friend-or-foe. The purpose is to exploit and develop MEMS and microsystems for mass producible miniature . flight and Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) Microrobots may find use as vehicles for micro-surveillance. although not specific to defence. The 7 cm long wings have a titanium-alloy frame. The burrs are designed to be used on a device that can attach itself to human hosts who “could be enemy troops or persons who have entered a restricted area”. 300]. Perhaps not surprisingly. The mass of the MAV is 7 . In addition. these areas are receiving a great deal of research attention.

biasing springs. Another project to investigate MEMS fuzing and S&A devices is being conducted at the US Naval Surface Warfare Center [348]. and magnetic. sequential actuating interlocks. pressure and flow sensors) can be utilised. The design uses a low-cost ceramic detonator chip fabricated by Cronos/MCNC. IMUs. acoustic. These will then be developed. weighing 275 g each) for launch into space for risk reduction testing in mid2000. The goal is to demonstrate a functional MEMS S&A device. fabricated.spacecraft DARPA envisions individual nanosatellites that can also operate in “cooperative constellations.5 ⋅ 7. The approach is to conceive and develop MEMS component elements such as zigzag (inertial delay) sliders. The applications are communications and remote sensing and action. inertial actuators and a “microenergetic initiator” (MEI). where a wide spectrum of MEMS sensors (accelerometers. Weapons systems fuzing / safety and arming The US Army Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) is developing a MEMS-based safety and arming (S&A) device for 20 mm projectiles for the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) [347]. . arming sliders. Integrated Sensing Systems is collaborating with NWSC to incorporate its CAPS devices into fuzing and safety and arming applications [60].5 ⋅ 10 cm. Aerospace Corporation were preparing flight assemblies for very small satellites (approx. clusters and on-demand swarms”. The main focus here is for torpedoes. 2. Also being developed is a generic miniaturized explosive train and fireset that will be compatible with a MEMS fuze and S&A device and a macro-sized warhead. At the time of the report. optimised and combined to give an architecture that will accomplish the S&A function.

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