MEMS Device Technologies
No doubt many readers have heard of the 1966 science fiction film "Fantastic Voyage". To save an important person suffering from a blood clot in the brain, a submarine with a crew including doctors and scientists is shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the person's bloodstream in an effort to destroy the clot. At the time of the film's release, this was a completely fantastic idea, as the name of the movie implies. Of course, sending people into a person's body is just a fantasy, but the idea of treating the body from the inside is starting to take shape through devices such as ingestible endoscopy capsules.
The microdevice concept dates back nearly 50 years to a famous lecture entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" given by Richard Feynman, who later was a joint recipient of the Nobel prize, at a 1959 meeting of the American Physical Society held at the California Institute of Technology . In that lecture, Feynman mentioned the possibility of micromachines consisting of several thousand atoms. The lecture title means that there are still unexplored regions at the submicroscopic scale that mankind should investigate through science and technology. A chronology of inventions and discoveries that have become a basis for MEMS-related technologies is given in Fig. 1. Also given are the years of Nobel prizes awarded in recognition of these ground-breaking efforts. We can see that a number of great inventions and discoveries in the microworld that have become the basis for information communications and biotechnology of the present were made in the ten-year periods before and after Feynman's lecture. These include the invention of the transistor, proposal of basic principles underlying integrated circuits, discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, and invention of the laser.
Fig. 1. Major scientific/technological inventions and discoveries related to MEMS.
We can view MEMS as technology for integrating in the microworld these inventions and discoveries of 20th-century science and technology for use in information communications, biotechnology, and other fields, and as a means for fabricating 21st-century devices and systems. At present, MEMS-related development proceeds on a field-by-field basis, such as optical-MEMS for optical communications, RF-MEMS for wireless communications including cell phones (RF: radio frequency), and bio-MEMS for medical care and biotechnology.
MEMS devices in development
Seamless integration technology enables the formation on LSIs with structures having dimensions or thicknesses that are hard to achieve by existing technologies. This should lead to highly functional MEMS chips featuring an array of MEMS devices or MEMS that integrate new functions that could not be achieved with LSIs or existing MEMS devices alone.With the aim of providing safe and secure ubiquitous services, NTT Microsystem Integration Laboratories is developing a MEMS fingerprint authentication sensor , a MEMS mirror array as an element of a MEMS optical switch module  (a key device in the next-generation network), and an RF-MEMS chip for wireless terminals . The other selected papers in this issue describe seamless integration technology in more detail and introduce these MEMS devices.