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Published January 1998 | Published
Journal Article Open

Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) and Fluid Flows


The micromachining technology that emerged in the late 1980s can provide micron-sized sensors and actuators. These micro transducers are able to be integrated with signal conditioning and processing circuitry to form micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) that can perform real-time distributed control. This capability opens up a new territory for flow control research. On the other hand, surface effects dominate the fluid flowing through these miniature mechanical devices because of the large surface-to-volume ratio in micron-scale configurations. We need to reexamine the surface forces in the momentum equation. Owing to their smallness, gas flows experience large Knudsen numbers, and therefore boundary conditions need to be modified. Besides being an enabling technology, MEMS also provide many challenges for fundamental flow-science research.

Additional Information

© 1998 by Annual Reviews Inc. MEMS is a multidisciplinary field and, as such, cooperation among scientists with different backgrounds is essential to accomplish this work. It is our privilege and pleasure to work with researchers who make these nearly impossible tasks become reality. We thank Professors R Goodman, CJ Kim, J Kim, J Speyer, K Wang, J Woo; Drs. B Gupta, S Joshi, S Tung, Mr. D Babcock, F Jiang, C Lee, GB Lee, C Liu, J Shih, and T Tsao. This work is supported by Dr. J McMichael of AFOSR, as well as Drs. K Gabriel and M Francis of DARPA. Their willingness to take risks is a key factor enabling the research community to unveil the exciting Aero-MEMS area.

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