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July 13th, 2005

Beyond Silicon

John DeGaspari: Microelectromechanical systems evolved from the semiconductor industry, and silicon accounts for the vast majority of MEMS. That's no surprise, since silicon lends itself well to semiconductor processing, and the designers and engineers of integrated circuits and MEMS understand the material's characteristics and how to process it.

Yet when it comes to tiny electromechanical devices, silicon is not necessarily the best material choice in all applications. In fact, engineers have been steadily expanding the list of materials to work with, as techniques to fabricate MEMS components are becoming more refined. The result is that those working in MEMS have a bigger toolbox of materials at their disposal. And they are dipping into that toolbox as they try to bring new capabilities to the products they create.


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