MEMS/Micromechanics Lab

A Voyage through the World of Micro Machines

Professor Taher Saif has completed a series of videos, entitled "A Voyage through the World of Micro Machines," designed to educate and excite high school students about phenomena related to microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Saif and his students wrote, filmed and edited seven, 5-10 minute videos that address such issues as how MEMS devices are affected by gravity, electrostatic, magnetic and other forces, microfluidics, and microfabrication.

Saif believes research and education must complement each other&emdash;research advances knowledge about MEMS, while education disseminates that knowledge. "The dissemination is particularly important for MEMS," Saif said, "because the micro world is a stranger to most of us, and particularly to younger people, in spite of all its fascinating developments." In addition to being available online, VHS tapes of the video series will be distributed to a selection of public schools, libraries and colleges around the United States, as well as to several international education and research institutions.

Infinitesimal machinery
Scaling of forces in the small world
Forces that move the small machines
Sculpting MEMS
How do you use MEMS?
Same principles, smaller size

Description of Research

Currently, the lab hosts four active research programs:

  • MEMS sensors and actuators are employed to study materials' behavior at nano meter scale. The MEMS devices have a force and displacement resolution of 50 nN and 10nm. The objective is to understand the mechanisms of deformation and strengthening of metals at small scale.
  • The non-linear dynamical response of MEMS actuators subjected to light pressure
  • Solid-liquid interaction problem at small scale. The interaction force between several small solids on the surface of a liquid is studied extensively
  • Mechanotransduction of single living cells subjected to mechanical force by MEMS actuators. The response of the cell is measured by MEMS force sensors.

The equipment consist of a custom made probe stations with 12K magnification, image acquisition and processing hardware and software, TV-VCR, a complete cell culture facility.