Argonne National Laboratory

Micro- and Nano-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS/NEMS)

Micro- and Nano-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS/NEMS)

Investigation of nanoscale phenomena often requires experimental approaches that allow precise control and manipulation of the interactions between nanoscale objects. MEMS/NEMS devices enable precise control of these nanoscale interactions, providing an ideal platform for interacting with the nano-world.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM) study the fundamental science behind the development of micro- and nanoscale systems with the goal of achieving unprecedented control in the fabrication, integration, and manipulation of nanostructures. This includes the incorporation—under cleanroom conditions--of materials and active submicron elements that combine mechanical, optical, and electrical signals to produce working nanofabricated structures. Micro- and nano-electromechanical systems, or MEMS/NEMS, are devices in which the physical motion of a micro- or nano-scale structure is controlled by an electronic circuit, or vice versa. MEMS and NEMS could be used to make particularly sensitive sensors and stable timing devices.

At the CNM, recent achievements in MEMS/NEMS research include: the demonstration of novel micromechanical optics for the manipulation of X-ray radiation; studies of nonlinear dynamics in micro- and nano-mechanical devices; studies of synchronization processes in nonlinear micro- and nanoscale devices; and optical characterization of nanoscale structures that are integrated onto micromechanical actuators.

To enable the creation of MEMS/NEMS devices, the CNM maintains comprehensive suites that include: 12,000 sq. ft. of class 100 cleanroom space; lithographic instruments (electron beam, focused ion beam, optical); deposition instruments (oxides, atomic layer deposition, microwave- and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition including diamond, Temescal electron beam evaporator, thermal/PECVD for carbon nanotubes and graphene, sputtering); and instruments for etching, inspection, and metrology.