Design engineers are likely to create a host of new applications for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). So predicts a panel of the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems of the National Research Council. But first, its study says, more R&D must be launched and completed. MEMS can produce tiny 3-D mechanical structures using lithography techniques derived from the construction of integrated circuits. Instead of handling only electrical signals, MEMS merges signal processing with sensing and actuation. Some systems have moving parts. Thus, MEMS makes possible miniature fluid-pressure and flow sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and micro-optical devices. The panel recommends enlarging R&D into MEMS-related fields, including surface materials, etching, packing, assembly, and engineering standards. CAD tools familiar in the design of integrated circuits are needed for MEMS, the study adds. Included are schematic-to-layout generation, automatic routing, and design verification. The result, the study says, could be "a revolution" of MEMS into medicine, robotics, navigation, computers, auto safety, munitions, instrumentation, and many other fields.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.