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Microelectromechanical Systems Technology Applied to the Miniaturization of Field Instrumentation

Field-portable Instrumentation

  1. Michel Goedert,
  2. William Higdon

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0913

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Goedert, M. and Higdon, W. 2006. Microelectromechanical Systems Technology Applied to the Miniaturization of Field Instrumentation. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Palo Alto, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


This paper explores the miniaturization of analytical instruments using emerging microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. MEMS provides an enabling technology base for miniaturization of many kinds. It has grown in parallel with the growth of the semiconductor industry since the discovery of silicon piezoresistance at the Bell Laboratories in the early 1950s, and borrows many principles and techniques from silicon “wafer fabs”. The technology is one of several that promises to revolutionize our lives in the 21st century.

We review some of the processes developed to fabricate MEMS parts and give examples of components developed with this technology. Finally, we describe how this technology has been used to develop a portable gas chromatograph (GC) and other chemical instrumentation for the detection of gases and vapors in the field. We show, with experimental results, how analytical instrumentation can benefit from MEMS technology.