A MEMS (microelectromechanical system) is a miniature machine that has both mechanical and electronic components. The physical dimension of a MEMS can range from several millimeters to less than one micrometer, a dimension many times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The label MEMS is being used to describe both a category of micromechatronic devices and the processes used when manufacturing them. Some MEMS don’t even have mechanical parts, yet they are classified as MEMS because they miniaturize structures used in conventional machinery, such as springs, channels, cavities, holes and membranes. Because some MEMS devices convert a measured mechanical signal into an electrical or optical signal, they may also be referred to as transducers. In Japan, MEMS are more commonly known as micromachines, and in European countries, MEMS are more commonly referred to as microsystems technology (MST). In the United States, the acronym “MEMS” rhymes with the word “stems.”
Unlike conventional mechatronic devices, MEMS are often manufactured with the same batch fabrication techniques used to create integrated circuits (ICs) and many commercial MEMS products are integrated and packaged together with ICs. MEMS fabrication allows micro-sensors, which gather data, and micro-actuators, which convert energy into motion, to integrate on the same substrate.