MEMS/NEMS sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones, pressure sensors, and biochemical sensors have transformed automotive, medical and consumer industries among others. In contrast, with the exception of projection displays and ink-jet printers, MEMS/NEMS actuators have not yet been similarly transformative. The objective of this seminar is to explore the high-power and low-power capabilities of MEMS/NEMS switches, or relays, with an eye to understanding whether they can become transformative; residential circuit breakers and low-power digital logic are used as benchmarks. MEMS power relays have now demonstrated kilovolt blocking voltages and several-ampere conduction currents, while offering mechanical bistability and rapid triggering. NEMS relays are close to operating at sufficiently low voltages to challenge low-power transistors in terms of switching energy. These achievements will be reviewed, as well as the lessons learned from their development. Conclusions will be drawn concerning the future application of MEMS/NEMS switches, in both high-power and low-power applications.
Jeffrey H. Lang received his SB (1975), SM (1977) and PhD (1980) degrees from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty of MIT in 1980 where he is now the Vitesse Professor of Electrical Engineering. He served as the Associate Director of the MIT Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems from 1991 to 2003, and has served as an Associate Director of the MIT Microsystems Technology Laboratories since 2012. Professor Lang's research and teaching interests focus on the analysis, design and control of electromechanical systems with an emphasis on: rotating machinery; micro/nano-scale (MEMS/NEMS) sensors, actuators and energy converters; flexible structures; and the dual use of electromechanical actuators as motion and force sensors. He has written over 300 papers and holds 12 patents in the areas of electromechanics, MEMS/NEMS, power electronics and applied control. He is a coauthor of Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits published by Morgan Kaufman, and the editor of, and a contributor to, Multi-Wafer Rotating MEMS Machines: Turbines Generators and Engines published by Springer. Professor Lang is a Fellow of the IEEE, and a former Hertz Foundation Fellow. He served as an Associate Editor of Sensors and Actuators between 1991 and 1994. He has also served as the General Co-Chair and Technical Co-Chair of the 1992 and 1993 IEEE MEMS Workshops, respectively, and the General Co-Chair of the 2013 PowerMEMS Conference.