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Nano Electromechanical Devices: Opportunities and Challenges

R.T. Howe
Stanford University, US

Keywords:
NEMS, nano electromechanical devices

Abstract:
This talk will review the challenges involved in the scaling of MEMS technology into the nanoscale, as well as the issues in using synthetic nanostructures in nano electro-mechanical (NEM) devices. A variety of applications, including new logic and memory devices, nanoscale sensors, and nano mirror arrays for projection lithography, are motivating these developments.

The scaling of conventional polysilicon mechanical elements from a volume of 10 mm x 2 mm x 1 mm by an order of magnitude in each dimension is certainly feasible using state-of-the-art lithography and etching. However, the resulting nanomechanical structure will have significantly different properties, due to the ten-fold increase in the ratio of grain size and surface oxide layer to its thickness, as well as the thousand-fold increase in surface-to-volume ratio. Such considerations will motivate the use of different materials and processes for NEM devices.

Locally grown nanostructures (e.g., nanowires) or prefabricated structural elements (e.g., nanotubes), provide a different set of challenges for the NEM device designer. These structures may offer a higher degree of precision and exceptional electromechanical properties; however, processes to integrate synthetic nanostructures into conventional lithographic nanofabrication remain very much a work in progress.

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