Since the discovery of the transistor effect in semiconductors in 1947, the silicon industry has grown to proportions that nobody at the time would ever have dreamt of. The possibility of making mechanical structures in silicon came much later.
The development of silicon technology has provided a number of important advantages. Silicon is an extremely good mechanical material, as shown in Table 1.1. The micromechanical components can be integrated with the electronics to develop smart sensor and actuator systems with additional features such as self-test and self-calibration.
In Japan, long-term programs were set up to promote micromachining through MITI and with the establishment of the Micromachine Centre in Tokyo. In Europe a number of European Union programs were begun to cover this field and in the United States, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has invested heavily in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. There are now a number of programs worldwide where micromachined structures can be ordered as part of multiproject designs.
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