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Assessment of Japanese Research and Development in Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS)

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Final Report

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Workshop Information

The WTEC workshop on Microsystems Research in Japan, was held at the National Science Foundation (NSF) on January 18, 2002. At the workshop, WTEC’s panel of experts focused on the latest work going on in Japan—historically one of the leaders in microelectromechanical system (MEMS) research and development.

Purpose and Scope

The goal of this study is to gather information and disseminate it to the research community on the status and trends in Japanese research and development in the field of MEMS in comparison to U.S. activities in this field.

A comparative assessment will be undertaken of U.S. and Japanese research and development in MEMS, which will provide the international research community with an evaluation of the state-of-the-art and future prospects for progress in theory and applications. The study will identify Japanese research centers of excellence that have major program initiatives in MEMS; some of these will be visited by a panel of senior U.S. MEMS researchers, while information on others will be gathered through secondary sources. The study panelists will have as their mission to analyze critically and compare MEMS research in the United States with that being pursued in Japan. The United States needs an assessment of this information and on any planned programs.This study will serve the following purposes:


Microelectromechanical systems of interest for this study are a class of devices in the sub-micron to one millimeter size range. Typical device components are fabricated using techniques based on or similar to the photolithographic processes used to manufacture semiconductor devices. However,there are some important differences between MEMS and conventional semiconductor devices. The mechanical properties of processed materials frequently manifest themselves in MEMS devices (e.g., when they are released from the substrate). On the other hand, these mechanical properties may have hidden or subtle effects in semiconductor electronic devices (which are never released from the substrate). The fabrication of integrated MEMS devices presents unique issues. The emerging use in recent years of MEMS devices in fluidics, optical, and biological applications also present novel issues.Encapsulation and interconnect technologies are a major barrier to the exploitation of MEMS in these applications.

Technical sub-topics to be covered in the study may include the following:

MEMS Science and Technology Base

MEMS Applications

Finally, beyond the above technical issues, the panel may also address the following non-technical issues:

The above list of topics will be refined by panel members in consultation with the sponsors at the study kickoff meeting.


Roger Howe
photo: Roger Howe
Dept of Electrical Engineering
University of California, Berkeley
497 Cory Hall # 1774
Berkeley CA 94720-1774
Mark Allen
photo: Mark Allen
The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332-0250
Khalil Najafi
photo: Khalil Najafi
Dept of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
University of Michigan
1301 Beal Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109-2122
Elliot Hui
photo: Elliot Hui
Dept of Electrical Engineering
University of California, Berkeley
Andrew Berlin
Mineo Yamakawa
Dave Monk