ystems) Tiny mechanical devices that are built onto semiconductor chips and are measured in micrometers. In the research labs since the 1980s, MEMS devices began to materialize as commercial products in the mid-1990s. They are used to make pressure, temperature, chemical and vibration sensors, light reflectors and switches, as well as accelerometers for vehicle airbags, smartphones, tablets and games (see accelerometer
).MEMS technology is also used to make inkjet print heads, microactuators for read/write heads and all-optical switches that reflect light beams to the appropriate output port.MEMS and MOEMS
When optical components are included in a MEMS device, it is called a micro-opto-electromechanical system (MOEMS). For example, adding a photonic sensor to a silicon chip constitutes a MOEMS device. See micromachine
, MEMS mirror
and optical switch
.MEMS vs. Nanotechnology
Sometimes MEMS and nanotechnology are terms that are used interchangeably, because they both deal with microminiaturized objects. However, they are vastly different. MEMS deals with creating devices that are measured in micrometers, whereas nantotechnology deals with manipulating atoms at the nanometer level.