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MEMs and NEMs sensors and actuators

​​​​​MEMS and NEMS—micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems—are tiny devices like sensors, actuators, and micromirror arrays, with moving parts that are sensitive to a physical quantity like speed, pressure, or direction. They convert this physical quantity into an electrical signal, which can, in some cases, operate an integrated micro-actuator.

Published on 7 July 2023

CEA’s M&NEMS technology, based on piezoresistive detection using silicon nanowires (nanogauges), technology offers many advantages over capacitive sensors, from a better linear response to less sensitivity to parasitic capacitances and enhanced performance.

Our new MEMS micromirror with piezoelectric actuation allows the mirror reflector material to be adjusted to the final application. One of the advantages of this MEMS micromirror is an operating voltage of just 20 V, compared to 150 V for conventional electromagneticallyactuated micromirrors.

Finally, our capacitive (CMUT) and piezoelectric (PMUT) components with neural-network-based AI can generate, receive, and process ultrasound signals.

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Devices compatible with the demands of ubiquitous sensing…

CEA’s M&NEMS multi-sensor platform enables multi-accelerometer, gyrometer, and pressure sensor devices with a variety of use cases, including environmental  monitoring, medical devices, robotics, the Factory of the Future, defense andsecurity, gaming and other consumer electronics.

Solid-state devices are of particular interest for automotive perception systems. Increasingly autonomous vehicles will contain more and more cameras and sensors, and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) is the frontrunner for long-range perception.

CEA’s 2D MEMS micromirrors, developed for the EU VIZTA project, enable a miniaturized MEMS-based LiDAR sensor that is more compact and less expensive than conventional LiDAR sensors. This means that redundant sensors can be implemented to improve safety. 

Ultrasonic smart sensors are useful in automotive perception systems, of course, but also in simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) systems used to orchestrate robots in the Factory of the Future, as well as for medical applications.​
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Pi​​ezoelectric MEMS micromirrors offer several advantages over electromagnetic and electrostatic micromirrors, not least of which is their much lower operating voltage.

Focus on automotive perception systems​

​Conventional LiDAR​
Miniaturized MEMS LiDAR​
• Bulky & expensive
• Difficult to interface with other sensors
• Possible safety issues

• Small, lightweight, and affordable, so many more sensors can be used for redundant image capture 
• The ability to use more sensors is a good tradeoff for the lower image quality than conventional LiDAR
• Can be co-integrated or interfaced with other sensors to further increase safety by monitoring temperature or protecting pedestrians from the laser

​“Today’s perception systems call for multiple sensors. M&NEMS devices enable smaller, more costeffective devices that respond to this need.”​

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                                                 Martin Gallezot, Deputy Head, Silicon Division, CEA

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Success stories ​

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CEA developped a 2D MEMS micromirror that can withstand high laser power. An ongoing collaboration with BEAMAGING aims at integrating this MEMS into a solid state LiDAR. This work is supported by the ECSEL Joint Undertaking.
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Apix Analytics

The technology was invented by CEA and Caltech and is now transferred to Apix Analytics. It features a miniature chromoatography column machined on silicon to separate the gases in the sample. The gases are then detected by nanoresonators NEMS that vibrate at a given frequency.

The surface of each nanoresonator is coated with a chemical layer that promotes the adsorption of specific molecules. The adsorbed molecules increase the resonator’s mass and consequently modify its resonating frequency thus allowing to determine the concentration ofeach component in a gaz sample.