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HOME > Encouragement of Learning > The Beans of the Industry- from "MEMS" to "BEANS"

The Beans of the Industry- from "MEMS" to "BEANS"

MIKI, Norihisa (Ph.D)

Picture 1: The Micro Rotor
The rotor diameter is 4.2 mm and it is made of silicon. Rotor processing involves a technique called "Photolithography," which is used to create integrated circuit.
(Click the photo to enlarge)

Picture 2: 50 nm diameter silver nanoparticles have self-organized to form a film on the detection sites. Through combination with the micro channels, it enables a chemical analysis from the preprocessing of the sample, to detection, to abolishment, on a single chip.

An airbag opens when the car crashes. How does a car detect a crash? How does an ink jet printer inject 1 pico liter (0.000000000001 liter) of ink rapidly and accurately to print a beautiful picture? Did you know that one million mirrors as small as a hair cross section are used for the television and movie theater? *1

These all require minute machines called MEMS, which are smaller than 1 mm. MEMS stands for "MicroElectroMechanical Systems," and are manufactured by using the same fine-detailed processing technology used to create integrated circuits. These devices are also implemented in controllers of game machines as motion sensors and are also found in cellular phones. They are expected to be used in various fields.

Picture 1 shows the 4 mm diameter wheel part of the Micro Gas Turbine, which is expected to be used to power cellular phones.

Although the MEMS devices are hidden and cannot be seen, they are adding new value and function to cars, cellular phones, and other products. For this reason, MEMS can be called the "beans of the industry," just as the semiconductor used to be called "The rice of the industry." Beans, which contain high nutrition and can be used in various recipes, are now evident as "BEANS" that will have a profound impact on our world over the coming decades. *2

Here, "BEANS" stands for "Bio", "Electro-mechanical", "Autonomous", "Nano System". By adding bio- and nano technology to MEMS, these will become innovative devices. For example, by placing bacteria that can absorb CO2 or NOx to MEMS, this will change the device into an environmental detoxification micro device. MEMS that can convert human motion and heat into electric energy will be far more effective with nano technology. Through control of the nano structure of metal, applications may be found for ultrahigh sensitive analysis systems. The research on BEANS has just started, but I believe that these will become the "Beans of the Industry" like MEMS are now - in about 20 years.

*1 Refer to the DLP of the home page of Texas Instruments Incorporated (http://www.tij.co.jp)
*2 Refer to "BEANS" on the Micromachine Center home page (http://www.mmc.or.jp).