NSF Sponsored Workshop on Structured Design Methods for MEMS

Digital Data Interchange Languages Summary

A widely used language for (digital) interchange of MEMS design data is crucial to rapid advances. The theme of "representation framework" or "language" is common to the five areas considered by this workshop, and underlies nearly all of the findings and recommendations. Synthesis, simulation of function, simulation of fabrication processes and teaching all will depend on an appropriate representation for interchange of information.

The goal of any such interchange representation is to permit the sharing of design knowledge and experience, as well as the rapid transmission of design information to fabricators. The interchange representation can also serve an additional function: that of separating the design process from the fabrication process. Should such a "clean separation" be achievable, it will arise through the construction and use of an appropriate information interchange language. Any such language must accommodate current MEMS (sub-)elements, devices and systems, while not constraining future developments.

One crucial aspect to resolve early is the type of information to be transmitted. In VLSI, designers transmit the desired final 2-D shapes for each layer to the fabricators. The fabricators then (with an intimate understanding of their processes) adjust or compensate or pre-distort the mask-layouts so that the desired final shapes will be created. Currently in MEMS, designers do the pre-distorting and must therefore have a deep understanding of the fabrication processes to be used. This results in much experimentation and many prototype fabrication cycles. The current strong connection between design and fabrication for MEMS is unlike digital VLSI, and may prove a hindrance to rapid advances.

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