If you’ve been reading about Teledyne Dalsa imaging products recently, you’ve probably heard a little bit about MEMS technology – micro-electro-mechanical systems. Although Teledyne Dalsa is ahead of the pack when it comes to bringing this new technology to market, it’s popping up more and more throughout the machine vision world.
What is MEMS? It’s part of the move toward smaller electronic components that’s being seen throughout numerous high-tech industries. MEMS components are developed and built using microfabrication, creating products that vary in size from one micron to several millimeters.
A micrometer is much larger than a nanometer, the extraordinarily tiny scale being pursued in various health and life science applications. Still, the miniaturized scale provides a number of benefits:
- Microdevices often have base performance specs exceeding their macro counterparts;
- The availability of batch fabrication allows lower per-unit costs during manufacturing;
- Many of the devices are capable of causing effects at the macro level despite their size.
To maximize the performance capabilities of MEMS devices, it’s necessary to integrate them into a silicon substrate with sophisticated integrated circuits that provide a control scheme. At the moment, this is the “bottleneck” of the technology: Incorporating effective microelectronics and other components remains a major engineering challenge.
MEMS Technology, Imaging, and Machine Vision
MEMS microsensors have the theoretical ability to address many of the practical limitations of today’s imaging technology. MEMS and nanotechnology are highly interdependent, and the two working together will soon be able to achieve rapid, accurate imaging at a microscopic level that can be applied to the most challenging inspection tasks.
MEMS can be applied to both visible and infrared imaging while effectively integrating high-level environmental sensors, micro-mirrors, micro-fluidics, and other tools into the same device. In time, the unique attributes of MEMS technology may significantly accelerate the pace of imaging innovation.