With the development of numerous electronic devices such as TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablet PCs, we are living in a world that is much more convenient and smarter than before. And as each industry field is developing day by day, our lives are getting richer. One of them is ‘MEMS’. ‘MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System)’, also called ‘Micro Electro Mechanical System’, refers to a micrometer-scale system produced by fusion of semiconductor and mechanical technology to miniaturize various machines and electronic devices. The technology range of MEMS, which started in earnest in the late 1990s, has been expanded day by day, and these days, it is being used in various fields including automobiles, medical care, and general industries. So, in which fields and how are MEMS currently being used? Let’s look at those cases.
A ‘smartphone’ is an example of applying these advantages of MEMS.
With smartphones called ‘computers in the palm of your hand’, we can enjoy the Internet, movies, MP3s, and various games anytime, anywhere. The thing to note here is that it all works with one hand gesture. You may have experienced screen changes when you rotate your phone horizontally or vertically. This is because the ‘MEMS acceleration sensor’ that recognizes motion among the various sensors of the smartphone is built-in. This sensor precisely measures the tilt, acceleration, and inertia of a mobile phone using a micrometer-scale system. It is also used in game consoles equipped with ‘Kindest’ that detects human body movements, such as the Nintendo Wii.
The same goes for car airbags.
Car airbags should be designed to not work under normal circumstances, but only to deploy in a crash. For this reason, the car’s airbag is triggered by the sensor recognizing that the vehicle’s speed is drastically reduced due to the collision of a moving vehicle with another object. Accelerometers used before MEMS were large in size and expensive, making them difficult to install in general vehicles. However, since the development of MEMS, it has become possible to embed an accelerometer in a small, precise, and inexpensive way, and now airbags have become widespread in almost all vehicles. MEMS are being used in transportation means such as ships and airplanes, robot control systems, and LCD projectors based on the same principle and thanks to this, the high-tech machinery industry has developed further.
MEMS are used in various ways in the medical field, and typical examples are blood glucose meters, DNA chips, and drug release systems. In January of this year, the ‘2013 International Symposium on Natural Simulation Technology’ was held in Gangwon-do. Here, Professor Dongeun Huh of the Department of Medical Engineering, Seoul National University College of Medicine, went one step further from simulating nature and presented research results that simulated human organs and the human body. The ‘lung on a chip’ he developed contains alveolar tissue in a chip smaller than a thumb. said to have been made. It is said that by inserting drugs into this chip, the physiological phenomena occurring in the lungs can be observed in detail. While it usually takes about 10 years to develop a new drug and costs about 800 billion won, it is said that the time and cost required to develop a new drug can be dramatically reduced by using this biochip.
A biological microchip ‘Biochip’ that can analyze genetic defects
Protein distribution and reaction patterns by binding biological molecules such as DNA and proteins on a small substrate cannot be left out. Biochips, which have made innovative changes in scientific and technological research, new drug development processes, and clinical diagnosis, can detect and diagnose cancer and AIDS gene mutations easily. In the future, it is said that MEMS technology will make it possible to manufacture super-integrated biochips, which will enable the development of super-capacity computers.
Not only this. In the future, MEMS will be a ‘human on a chip’ that puts all human organ functions, such as the heart and liver, into one chip, and a ‘lab on a chip’ that enables health checkups with a drop of blood. It can be developed in the form of ‘ and can be used in various ways. Thanks to these technological advances, medical researchers are currently accelerating their research under the goal of developing MEMS in the form of accessories or wearable’s worn over the body, such as glasses or watches. We look forward to the future development of MEMS that affects people, information, and industry.