sp01u5p3 - Unit Five Microsystems Technology Life at Small...

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Unit Five Microsystems Technology Project Oceanography Spring 2001 77 Life at Small Scale Lesson Objectives: Students will be able to do the following: Explain the steps in micromachine fabrication Define nanotechnology Name two reasons why scientists developed the scanning tunneling microscope Key concepts: MEMS, sensors, actuators, nanotechnology, scanning tunneling microscope (STM), atom Micromachines Machines made from microscopic components are known as MEMS . These machines have both electrical and mechanical parts, so they are also called microelectromechanical systems. MEMS have advantages over their larger counterparts, because they are less invasive and can do very precise work in very small spaces. Currently, MEMS are divided into two categories, either sensors or actuators . Sensors are used to take measurements in many different environments, both natural and artificial. Their small size allows them to do this without interfering with the environment itself. Sensors are widely used in the automobile industry to detect minute pressure changes in engine oil, transmission fluid, tire pressure, and vacuum pressure. Sensors are also used to measure minute changes in ocean water chemistry, because their small size makes the equipment easy to handle and portable while still providing accurate measurements. They use less power than large sensors, so they can operate for longer periods of time without replacing batteries. Actuators interact with the environment to perform some type of work. The motion they deliver is exact due to their small size. These devices are used in such places as automobiles to trigger the release of air bags. They can also be used to position computer disk drives and make micromeasurements for the manufacture of other machines. The first micromachines were fabricated in ways similar to the integrated circuit or microchip . This is an etching process that builds up layers of material on the surface of the base, and then the material is eaten away to create the parts of the machine. The layered materials have either mechanical or electrical properties. By using this technology, scientists
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Unit Five Microsystems Technology Project Oceanography Spring 2001 78 are able to mass-produce these machines at low cost for a variety of uses. Today scientists still use this technique, but even as you are reading this information it is becoming obsolete. MEMS technology is advancing at such a fast rate that new fabrication
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sp01u5p3 - Unit Five Microsystems Technology Life at Small...

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