Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Tiny Tunes

the reliance on afm tips and cantilevers illustrates a decidedly mechanical bent in much of today’s nanotech research. Indeed, the strategy of using small silicon-based machines called MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) to manipulate nano devices is turning out to be an especially promising area. These micromachines are hundreds or thousands of times bigger than the nanoscale and are commercially used in everything from automobile air bags to switches in optical networks. But in the hands of skilled researchers, MEMS can offer a valuable way to control nano action.

In turn, the incorporation of nanoscale structures can greatly increase the utility of existing MEMS technology. “There are a number of situations with devices a few tens or even thousands of micrometers in size where one critical dimension needs to be smaller. Right at the heart of the device you may need a nanoscale feature,” says Michael Roukes, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology. Nanomachines are particularly useful in responding to “very feeble forces,” says Roukes, who has recently fabricated devices such as a nano resonator, which vibrates like the strings on a tiny guitar. Incorporating these nano devices into MEMS could, for example, yield signal processors that consume minuscule amounts of power.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Computing

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me