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techdirections March 2014 : Page 18

Teach Microsystems Technology on a Tight Budget By Matthias Pleil and G. H. Massiha mpleil@unm.edu; Massiha@louisiana.edu H IGH schools, technical schools, and colleges have an important role to play in preparing today’s students for the STEM workforce. Educational institutions must also allow cur-rently employed STEM profession-als and those in newly emerging tech industries to keep up to date on their skills and education. Many educational institutions have limited resources—in terms of both bud-get and faculty expertise—when it comes to teaching technically ad-vanced subjects. To address that concern, over the last 20 years the National Sci-ence Foundation (NSF), through its Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, has funded many ATE centers across the United States to advance the technician-level work-force. One such center is Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME), located at the University of New Mexico. SCME offers educational materials and professional development at no cost. These materials and profes-sional development opportunities Matthias Pleil is research professor of mechanical engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and fac-ulty member in the School of Applied Technologies and the School of Math, Science, and Engineering, Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquer-que; and G. H. Massiha is professor, Department of Industrial Technology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. include sponsored conferences; downloadable written materials for instructors and students; YouTube channels that provide lectures, ani-mations, and videos; hands-on kits for the classroom; micro and nano films; webinars; online distance learning courses; and mentoring opportunities for educators. This article provides information on mi-crosystems technology and on re-lated support available to educators from SCME. The overall micro-electro-me-chanical systems (MEMS) industry has grown at a 9% overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last 10 years and is projected to grow at 12-13% CAGR through 2018. Certain MEMS sectors are grow-ing at much higher rates, including bioMEMS (30%) and surface-acoustic wave (SAW) devices (27%). MEMS applications in smart-phones and tablets are growing at 34% and are expected to reach $2.4 billion in revenue in 2014. The mo-tion sensors segment (gyros, acceler-ometers, compass, pressure sensors) related to consumer applications is growing at the even higher rate of 46%. The United States produces ap-proximately half of all microsystems and has more MEMS foundries than any other country. In addition, there are many small startup companies poised for rapid growth, which means there will be increased need for technicians as these companies move from the prototype to the high-volume-production phase. Fig. 1—SCME value creation roadmap 18 tech directions X MARCH 2014

Teach Microsystems Technology on a Tight Budget

Matthias Pleil & G. H. Massiha


HIGH schools, technical schools, and colleges have an important role to play in preparing today’s students for the STEM workforce. Educational institutions must also allow currently employed STEM professionals and those in newly emerging tech industries to keep up to date on their skills and education. Many educational institutions have limited resources—in terms of both budget and faculty expertise—when it comes to teaching technically advanced subjects.

To address that concern, over the last 20 years the National Science Foundation (NSF), through its Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, has funded many ATE centers across the United States to advance the technician-level workforce. One such center is Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME), located at the University of New Mexico.

SCME offers educational materials and professional development at no cost. These materials and professional development opportunities include sponsored conferences; downloadable written materials for instructors and students; YouTube channels that provide lectures, animations, and videos; hands-on kits for the classroom; micro and nano films; webinars; online distance learning courses; and mentoring opportunities for educators. This article provides information on microsystems technology and on related support available to educators from SCME.

The overall micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) industry has grown at a 9% overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last 10 years and is projected to grow at 12-13% CAGR through 2018. Certain MEMS sectors are growing at much higher rates, including bioMEMS (30%) and surface-acoustic wave (SAW) devices (27%).

MEMS applications in smartphones and tablets are growing at 34% and are expected to reach $2.4 billion in revenue in 2014. The motion sensors segment (gyros, accelerometers, compass, pressure sensors) related to consumer applications is growing at the even higher rate of 46%.

The United States produces approximately half of all microsystems and has more MEMS foundries than any other country. In addition, there are many small startup companies poised for rapid growth, which means there will be increased need for technicians as these companies move from the prototype to the highvolume- production phase.

The Southwest Center for Microsystems Education
SCME is an NSF-funded ATE Center of Excellence that identifies microsystems technician competencies, creates and disseminates educational materials and models, and provides professional development activities to create and maintain a skilled microsystems workforce that is ready for both research-and-development and industrial manufacturing environments. By supporting the growth and enrichment of technician education programs, the SCME will improve the competitive position of established and emerging economic clusters. As a consequence, it will improve the United States’ capability to support the micro/nano industry and related sector. Fig. 1 presents a graphic depiction of how SCME provides value to its stakeholders.

What Are MEMS?
MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) are also referred to as microsystems, which include MOEMS (micro-optical), microfluidics, bioMEMs, and semiconductors.
MEMS include very small devices or groups of devices that integrate both mechanical and electrical components. The sizes of these systems range from a few microns to millimeters.

MEMS are usually constructed on a single chip that contains one or more micro-components and the inputs/outputs for electrical signals, fluidic micro channels, optical fibers, and openings to the environment. The components may include different types of sensors, transducers, actuators, electronics, chemically and biologically functionalized parts, and structures (e.g., cantilevers, valves, channels chambers, gears, sliding mirrors, and thin film diaphragms). Each component type is designed to interface with an input such as light, gas molecules, specific types of radiation, pressure, temperature, or biomolecules.

MEMS devices can, in effect, sense, think, act, and communicate, and, more recently, harvest energy. Through the miniaturization of macro- sized devices, improved fabrication quality controls, and the ability to fabricate large numbers of devices, the costs of manufacturing per part continues to decline, resulting the double-digit market growth rates seen in bio-medical and consumer product applications.

MEMS are wide ranging in their applications and construction. On a single chip there can be one microdevice or element or many devices containing dozens of components or elements. The interaction of these components makes up a microelectro- mechanical system. MEMS elements work independently as a solitary device or together in large arrays or combinations to perform complicated tasks.

As an example, Figs. 2 and 3 show different views of Texas Instruments’ digital light processor (DLP) chip. The DLP has been one of the most commercially successful MEMSbased systems to date. The DLP chip is made of over 1 million electrostatically driven individual MEMS mirrors, nine of which are shown in Fig. 3. The MEMS component is referred to as the digital mirror device (DMD). This MEMS-based system was developed by Larry Hornbeck of Texas Instruments starting in the 1980s, resulting in the first commercially viable product in 1995 with a VGA (640 x 480) resolution projection system. Current systems for movie theaters and large venues contain three chips (one for each color) of over 8 million mirrors each.

Therapeutic biomedical MEMS is another rapidly growing market segment. These applications include cochlear implants, artificial retinas, subcutaneous drug delivery systems, and glucose micro-sensors with microfluidic pumps to dispense insulin. Photo 1 shows how small a micro-fluidic insulin pump can make subcutaneous drug delivery systems a reality. Bio-chemical MEMS used in diagnostics systems include labon- a-chip devices that detect genetic variations; test drugs; grow cells on micro-array platforms; detect harmful bio-chemical gasses in homeland security applications and food contamination using micro-cantileverbased arrays or surface-acoustic wave (SAW) based devices.

How MEMS Can Enhance Tech Programs
MEMS are found in a wide range of biotechnology, transportation, homeland security, and consumer product applications, and, as such, are effective at engaging STEM students at the secondary and postsecondary levels. Common microsystems applications that spark students’ interest include air bag crash sensor systems; inkjet print heads; DLP projection systems; motion sensors found in cell phones, tablets, and game controllers; as well as pressure sensors, accelerometers, and micro-gyros found in automotive and aerospace applications.

MEMS typically contain an integrated set of otherwise disparate technologies (e.g., mechanics, fluidics, materials, energy, photonics, biology) that span the entire spectrum of STEM components. Moreover, at the postsecondary level, MEMS is one of the last bastions of hands-on learning, as colleges and universities move to replace physical labs with computer stations and simulators.

SCME: A Source of Materials and Support
The Southwest Center for Microsystems Education is the only ATE center to focus on microsystems and is a source for educational materials to enhance the STEM curriculum and bring up-to-date curriculum found in electronics, bio-tech, photonics, and engineering technology programs.

Through a faculty development strategy that includes one-day, twoday, and week-long workshops, as well as online webinars and short courses, SCME staff train educators who adapt and integrate MEMS education and training into their classes. To date, more than 400 educators from 30 states have participated in MEMS workshops and short courses hosted by the SCME at the University of New Mexico and its partner institutions: Central New Mexico Community College, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, North Dakota State College of Science, the University of South Florida, and most recently, the University of Michigan’s Lurie Nanofabrication Center. Educators report having impacted thousands of students and delivered over 70,000 student-hours of instruction.

The center will continue to host workshops for approximately 80 faculty per year and provide classroom resources for eductors to use in teaching microsystems design and fabrication. SCME reaches out to community colleges nationwide that have an expressed interest in microsystems. SCME staff also work with secondary schools, as part of its MEMS awareness mission, by engaging secondary educators as MEMS cleanroom trainees, educational materials developers, and classroom adopters.

The organization supports a dualcredit/ dual-enrollment Introduction to MEMS course that brings in area high school students and teachers. Through periodic industry advisory meetings, SCME staff ensure that they support the development of microsystems- educated technicians to support this rapidly growing industry. The organization has developed a large number of learning modules based on the needs expressed by the microsystems industry advisory board and surveys.

Many modules were built around the STEM concepts necessary to fabricate a simple MEMS device, the pressure sensor. These include topics on cleanroom safety (MSDS, NFPA, PPE) and protocol, crystallography and anisotropic etching, photolithography, thin film deposition, silicon oxide growth, and metal evaporation. Hands-on kits to bring the cleanroom into the classroom have been developed and are available for sale (on a cost-recovery basis). All written materials are available for download from the SCME-NM.org website and there are many supplemental videos and animations on the SCME YouTube Channel.

Photos 2 and 3 show the front and back sides of student fabricated MEMS pressure sensors. This is the end product of a series of processes that include silicon nitride deposition, photolithography patterning (resist coat, expose, and develop), deep reactive ion etching, metal evaporation, lift-off, and anisotropic wet etching of silicon crystal. These chips are fabricated by students and workshop attendees at the University of New Mexico’s Manufacturing Training and Technology Center (MTTC). This process has been transferred to the USF, NDSCS, and, most recently, to the University of Michigan.

To bring the concepts of how a pressure sensor is made and how it works, SCME has developed a Pressure Sensor Macro Model Kit. Photo 4 shows the working system in a classroom environment. The Wheatstone bridge circuit theory is a component of the kit, shown in Fig. 4.

Since the bioMEMS market segment is one of the fastest growing areas in the MEMS field, SCME has collaborated with bio-tech partners associated with the Bio-Link ATE center to create a series of bioMEMS educational modules and kits. Photo 5 shows educators learning about one of the more interesting application of bioMEMS, the DNA microarray.

More on How SCME Can Assist Faculty and Students
SCME offers many ways for educators to bring MEMS into the STEM classroom. All of its more than 40 learning modules can be downloaded from the SCME website. Each is built from several shareable content objects (SCOs) that include primary knowledge (reading), activity (homework, hands-on labs, worksheets), and assessments.

Every learning module comes in pairs consisting of “Participant” and “Instructor” guides, the latter having the answers to the assessment and activity questions, learning maps, and notes to assist with facilitating student learning. There are also PowerPoint files for each module, which the instructor may use, modify, and adapt for his or her specific application. Supplemental materials are available in the form of lectures, animations, and videos on the SCME and YouTube channels.

SCME is in the process of building a series of online distance-learning short courses to enhance its ability to spread its educational materials to a larger audience. These courses can be configured to meet the needs of individual instructors and institutions. This is being done on an open source learning management system (MOODLE) housed on the SCME website.

Among the best resources are the dozen hands-on kits that can be obtained through the SCME kit store. These include Anistropic Etch Kit, Chrystallography Kit, Dynamic Cantilever Kit, GeneChip Kit, Lift-Off Kit, LIGA Micromachining Simulation Kit, MEMS Innovators Kit, MEMS Making Micro Machines Kit, Pressure Sensor Model Kit, and Rainbow Wafer Kit.

All kits are available for online order at reasonable cost (all proceeds are used to replenish the kit stock).

The SCME website, http://scme-nm.org, offers all of its written materials for free download. Teachers should register as educators to gain access to additional materials like the instructor resources as mentioned above. SCME also presents webinars and more than a dozen are currently archived on the website.

SCME presents workshops, which are generally free, at its UNM site and at partner institutions. An annual Micro Nano Tech Conference is cosponsored and hosted by SCME and the Nano ATE Centers (NACK, Nano- Link, SHINE, NEATEC) as well as MATEC. All of these centers also offer ample educational materials.

Online SCME Resources for Educators
Main Website: http://scme-nm.org
Catalog: http://scme-nm.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=97&Itemid=226
Educational materials (downloadable; create an account to access instructor materials) http://scme-nm.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=97&Itemid=53
Kit Store: https://secure.touchnet.com/C21597_ustores/web/store_cat.jsp?STOREID=44&CATID=67&SINGLESTORE=true
YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/SCME2012
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyAvnKdlKo3WKkQOragW2EA

Partner ATE Centers
NACK (Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge Network):
http://nano4me.org
NEATEC (Northeast Advanced Technology Center):
http://neatec.org
Nano-Link (Nano-Link Center for Nanotechnology Education):
http://www.nano-link.org
MATEC (Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center):
http://matec.org
SHINE (Seattle’s Hub for Industry-Driven Nanotechnology Education):
http://www.seattlenano.org
Bio-Link (Educating the Biotechnology Workforce):
http://www.bio-link.org/home

Matthias Pleil is research professor of mechanical engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and faculty member in the School of Applied Technologies and the School of Math, Science, and Engineering, Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque; and G. H. Massiha is professor, Department of Industrial Technology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Read the full article at http://www.omagdigital.com/article/Teach+Microsystems+Technology+on+a+Tight+Budget/1642279/198323/article.html.

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