Undergraduate Teaching 2022-23

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4C15: MEMS: Design, 2022-23

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4C15: MEMS: Design, 2022-23

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Prof AA Seshia


Prof AA Seshia

Lab Leader

Prof AA Seshia

Timing and Structure

Lent term. 12 lectures + 2 examples classes + coursework. Assessment: 75% exam/25% coursework.


The aims of the course are to:

  • introduce the principles of MEMS design and their application to a variety of microsystems.


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • extend the principles of microfabrication to the development of micromechanical devices and the design of microsystems
  • understand the principles of energy transduction, sensing and actuation on a microscopic scale.
  • appreciate the effects of scaling, and the similarities and differences between micromechanical assemblies and macroscopic machines.
  • analyse and model the behaviour of microelectromechanical devices and systems.


MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) technology enables the integration of mechanical, electrical, chemical, thermal, fluidic, magnetic and optical components on a microscopic scale together with elements allowing for the interconversion of energy between these different domains using semiconductor-based fabrication techniques. MEMS technology has been widely perceived as a breakthrough in the creation of microsystems for applications ranging from smart sensors, biomedical devices, displays and imagers, telecommunications, computer peripherals and the automotive and aerospace sectors. MEMS devices operate on scales that are much smaller than is conventional: minimum feature sizes for micromachining processes often measure 10's of nanometers, forces generated by microactuators range from piconewtons to millinewtons, and the displacement of microstructures can be measured to less than a picometer.

Introduction (1L, Prof AA Seshia)

  • Overview of MEMS technology
  • Scaling laws
  • Principles of MEMS Design

Transducers in MEMS technology (2L, Prof AA Seshia)

  • Energy-conserving transducers
  • Transduction of deformation

Microfluidics (2L, Prof AA Seshia)

  • Microscale fluid flow
  • Damping
  • Electrokinetic Flow

Microactuators and Microsensors (4L, Prof AA Seshia)

  • Principles of Actuation
  • Force and Pressure Sensors
  • Accelerometers and Gyroscopes
  • Resonators, oscillators and RF MEMS

Contact mechanics at the micro-scale (4L, Prof AA Seshia)

  • Hertzian point contacts between elastic solids
  • Surface energy and adhesion - JKR and DMT
  • Condensation and meniscus effects


The coursework will investigate the design and modeling of a MEMS electrostatic actuator subject to voltage control. 

Coursework Format

Due date

& marks

Learning objectives:

  1. To design a linear electrostatic microactuator for a hard disk drive application.
  2. To explore MEMS design optimisation subject to manufacturing constraints.

Individual Report 

anonymously marked

Wed week 9

22 March




Please refer to the Booklist for Part IIB Courses for references to this module, this can be found on the associated Moodle course.

Examination Guidelines

Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.

Last modified: 27/09/2022 11:41