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MEMS Measurement Science and Standards


Our goal is to provide technical leadership in R&D for the MEMS measurement infrastructure essential to improving U.S. economic competitiveness. MEMS technologies integrate the functionalities of information gathering (sensing) and acting on decisions (actuation) with the information processing power (microprocessor) of the integrated circuit. MEMS are well known for their use in automotive applications (air bags, tire-pressure monitoring systems, vehicle stabilization control) and for their use in digital light projectors (DLP) in conference rooms, televisions, and movie theaters, as well as smartphones, exemplifying the "More than Moore" paradigm of the semiconductor electronics industry. This project works closely with industry groups and standards committees to advance measurement science and standards for device characterization and testing.
The two new Reference Materials are shown on their mounting surfaces. Above is an ordinary door key for scale.
The two new Reference Materials (RM 8096 at left, RM8097 at right) are shown on their mounting surfaces. Above is an ordinary door key for scale.


Integrating ever larger numbers of even smaller transistors to produce faster and more integrated-circuit logic and memory chips, which has been the base upon which many other new technologies were built, has changed the world in fundamental ways. But this paradigm, which is referred to as Moore's Law or scaling, is now quite mature and not nearly as effective at leveraging progress as formerly. But this does not signal the end of the microelectronics revolution. A new paradigm, which is adding completely new capabilities to integrated circuit chips, is a rapidly growing component of the microelectronics industry's Road Map. This component, which is often referred to as "More than Moore" to distinguish it from Moore's Law scaling, is based on applying, adapting, and extending the same technology used to produce integrated circuits to include new functionality at the chip level, such as sensors and actuators. This paradigm offers the possibility of creating systems of unprecedented complexity and power, but it also introduces new challenges for metrology. Every new function beyond the classical ones of amplification, modulation, demodulation, and filtering requires development of a new on-chip measurement capability including appropriate standards.

Because it supports the "More than Moore" paradigm, this project has focused on a number of diverse activities over its lifetime. Currently, the activities of the project fall into three major areas. The first area, MEMS Standards, addresses the physical and documentary standards needed to support the integration micro/nanofluidic devices, micro-sensors, and micro-actuators with integrated circuits. The second area, Lab-on-a-Chip Device Metrology, is focused on the measuring and characterizing the physical properties of micro and nanofluidic chips that serve as lab-on-a-chip platforms. The third area, MEMS Motion Metrology, is concerned with developing super-resolution fluorescence imaging methods for resolving nanoscale motions of MEMS devices.

Major Accomplishments:

  • User's guide for NIST Reference Material 8096 and 8097 (MEMS 5-in-1)
  • First measurement of the individual steps of an electrostatic (scratch) drive 
  • New anisotropic etch-based micro-machining technology for diamond
  • New technique for producing < 10 nm vertical walls for Si CD line-width
Error in element (see logs)

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:



Jon Geist, Leader
Yaqub Afridi
Richard Allen
Janet Cassard
Michael Gaitan
Craig McGray
Brian Nablo
Darwin Reyes

Related Programs and Projects:


Jon Geist

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8120
Gaithersburg, MD  20899-8120