Short for micro-electromechanical systems, the name for a micro fabrication technology used in making systems-on-a-chip (SoC) that embeds mechanical devices such as fluid sensors, mirrors, actuators, pressure and temperature sensors, vibration sensors and valves in semiconductor chips. MEMS combine many disciplines, including physics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, electrical engineering, optics and electronics.
Typical MEMS devices combine sensing, processing and/or actuating functions to alter the way that the physical world is perceived and controlled. They typically combine two or more electrical, mechanical, biological, magnetic, optical or chemical properties on a single microchip.
MEMS devices are already used in such fields as the automotive industry -- where they are incorporated into airbag and vehicle control; medicine -- where they are used to control medication dosing and control medical devices such as pacemakers; and construction -- where they are used in building materials that can sense changes in environmental stresses.
In a MEMS system, the integrated circuits (ICs) are considered the thinking part of the system while MEMS provides active perception and control functions. MEMS devices are divided into two different categories: microsensors that detect information and actuators that respond to information.
MEMS are sometimes referred to as microsystems, abbreviated MST.