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JUL/AUG 2013  

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MEMS/ Microfluidics

Top Features

As the name makes clear, ultracapacitors are a giant leap beyond your average capacitor. Also known as supercapacitors and electrochemical double-layer capacitors, these vastly improved power supplies now assist and even compete with batteries in a variety of military and non-military applications. Though batteries still have advantages, ultracapacitor technology isn’t standing still—it is steadily advancing and closing the technological gap.

Unlike traditional circuit boards, flexible circuits feature plastic substrates that allow them to bend during use. In certain medical procedures, for example, flex circuits are better able than their rigid counterparts to handle the bending and twisting involved in moving a tiny electronic device to its destination inside the body.

In the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage, doctors put a new spin on the term “house call.” Using microminiaturization technology, scientists shrink a team of surgeons to the size of the flu virus, then send the group on a mission to destroy a blood clot deep inside the brain of a Russian defector. (There’s no spoiler—you’ll have to watch the movie for yourself.)

Driving is a vital part of life, but we pay a high price for it. Each year, there are millions of accidents on the world’s roads, causing tens of thousands of deaths and costing society hundreds of billions of dollars. Widespread traffic congestion wastes enormous amounts of time and fuel. Then there are the steep environmental costs of vehicle emissions.

The deep-reactive-ion-etching (DRIE) process—notable for producing steep trenches and high walls reminiscent of a miniature Manhattan streetscape—helped propel microelectromechanical systems into the mainstream in the 1990s.

Though music synthesizers were the size of entire recording studios back in the days of vacuum tubes, and now can be played on an iPhone or iPad, it’s really the size of the sound that matters to musicians and consumers alike.

Top Videos

Projected to grow from about $11.5 billion in 2012 to $21.2 billion in 2017, the market for microelectromechanical systems will be shaped by an increasingly sensor-based world, according to forecasts presented at the recent MEMS Executive Congress U.S. 2012.

In a series of videos, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science demonstrate a swarm of flying robot quadrotors they developed at the school's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab. The flying quadrotors are completely autonomous, meaning humans are not controlling them; rather they are controlled by a computer programed with instructions.

soStratasys, Eden Prairie, Minn., and Optomec Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., have partnered in a joint development project to merge 3-D printing and printed electronics to create what Stratasys is calling the first fully printed hybrid structure, according to a release by Stratasys.

Stanford University researchers appear to have their sights set on a "Fantastic Voyage." Remember the science-fiction novel that shrunk a handful of scientists and medical personnel and injected them into a person to perform a surgical procedure? If not, don't bother reading the book now because reality is going to be whole lot more interesting.

The digital world is about to get extremely up-close and personal for those who wear the new iOptik contact lens produced by Innovega Inc., Bellevue, Wash. In January, the company announced it intends to accelerate delivery of designs, components and licenses for the technology to selected strategic partners.

Top Products

Clippard Instrument Laboratory Inc.

Clippard HV-HTV valveAvailable in 3-way and 4-way configurations, Clippard’s new HV-HTV valves feature the same benefits available with other Minimatic brass valves: proven reliability, compact size, economical pricing, precision machining and more.  These valves feature #10-32 inlet and outlet ports and are available as toggle or stem actuated, in addition to offering cartridge styles. Flows rates are to 15 scfm @ 100 psig.

Metrigraphics LLC

Metrigraphics substratesMetrigraphics LLC provides complex microflex circuits and coils for use as sensors or as in-sensor devices. With features measuring from 5?m to 10?m and having up to six metal layers, the sensor circuits can form the basis of a biologic chemistry sensor, a device for sensing contaminants in fluids or for use in environmental and other specialty applications, including medical and homeland security.

Akustica Inc., a subsidiary of the Bosch Group, introduced four new MEMS microphones featuring a new packaging design that allows both top- and bottom-mounted mics to perform the same, according to a Nov. 28 news release issued by the Pittsburgh-based company.

InTech

InTech micro book thumb"Micromachining Techniques for Fabrication of Micro and Nano Structures," a new book presenting advances in micromanufacturing technology, is available as a free download through InTech, an open access publisher of scholoarly papers and books.

Kionix Inc.

Kionix Inc., Ithica, N.Y., introduced a trio of new products at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to a company news release issued Jan. 9. A top-three provider of MEMS inertial sensors for consumer products, Kionix rolled out its first 3-axis accelerometer-gyro ‘combo’ device, a low-power 3-axis consumer-grade gyro, and a 9-axis sensor-fusion software solution targeted at the rapidly growing consumer electronics market.