NSF Sponsored Workshop on Structured Design Methods for MEMS
On November 12-15, 1995 a workshop sponsored by the National Science
Foundation was held at the California Institute of Technology
to discuss and explore the research issues involved in developing
structured design methodologies for Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems
(MEMS). The Workshop gathered attendees from many of the major research
universities involved in MEMS fabrication and MEMS design research, as well
as several industry representatives. The goal of the Workshop was to
identify areas of profitable fundamental research in the area of structured
design methods for MEMS. The primary question posed to the Workshop was
the following: Can the successes in developing structured design methods
for digital VLSI be extended into the domain of MEMS? If so, what lessons
can be learned and transferred?
The workshop attendees were divided into four discussion groups,
and a series of questions were suggested to each group:
The Fabrication Process Simulation group examined the
the simulation of MEMS fabrication processes during the design process.
- The Synthesis group's discussion
encompassed the development of methods for automatic or
semi-automatic generation of MEMS shapes and/or masks.
- What type of design rules can be defined that when applied to the
representation will guarantee successful fabrication in a series
of MEMS fabrication processes?
- What shape synthesis tools are needed?
- Can methods be developed to automatically create masks (and other
fabrication information) to fabricate a desired shape?
- What function synthesis tools are needed?
- VLSI design has benefited by building complex functions from
hierarchies of simpler elements, including automatic
mapping of logical constructs into physical devices and
physical placement of devices and wire routing
- Can the same approach make progress towards automatic determination
of shape(s) that will exhibit a desired function?
- Can a methodology be developed to compile a schematic
representation into masks and processing information to
fabricate a device or system?
- The Function Simulation group considered approaches and
requirements for simulation of the mechanical and electrical function
of the resulting devices and systems.
- What description(s) of function should be developed?
- Should libraries of functional elements be compiled?
- Should a small set of functional sub-elements be developed,
from which more complex systems can be built?
- What function simulation tools are needed?
- Considerable work has been done on FEA of stress, strain, and
electrical charge for MEMS.
- What other simulation of function will be important?
- The Digital Data Interchange Languages group
discussed the requirements
for languages and standards for interchange of information between
research, design, fabrication, and testing groups.
- What level or levels of abstraction should be used for describing
the physical design?
- Should it be two-dimensional layers corresponding to the
masks which are used during the fabrication process?
- Or should it be a form of a three-dimensional description?
- Or should it be a descriptive hierarchy with tools to move between
- What type of model should be used to represent MEMS designs?
- What should be the role of traditional solid modeling?
- What attributes should the model provide in describing
the design (in addition to geometry)?
Potential candidates include strength, material, microstructure,
- What should be the form of a digital design exchange format?
- Can the format support alternative MEMS processes?
- Is there a common set of information required by all
- What formats and design methodologies are in use today to support
the MEMS processes and is there a generic methodology applicable to
all (many of) the MEMS processes?
- Is there some grouping of MEMS processes which will facilitate the
identification of generic methodologies?
- What fabrication simulation tools are needed?
- The physical device is not a simple extrusion of the 2-D mask
- Is there a need for fabrication process planning
(or can a "clean separation" between the design activity and the
fabrication details be maintained)?
- Are design critics to identify non-manufacturable features a
These four groups met over the course of the four day workshop, with
twice-daily meetings of the whole group for discussion and interchange.
The reports of the four discussion groups are included in
of this report.
The whole-group discussions helped refine the group discussions,
developed some common themes, and also generated an over-arching
agreement on the necessity for some infrastructure development.
A brief report on suggested infrastructure developments in included
A brief introduction to the background of this report is included
in the next section, followed by brief summaries of each discussion
group's findings and recommendations, followed by the full report
of each group.
Each participant was encouraged to write a position paper in
conjunction with the workshop.
These are attached to this report in Section
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