Putting Crystals in Their Rightful Place

The critical physical dimensions of MEMS devices can vary from well below one micron on the lower end of the dimensional spectrum, all the way to several millimeters. Likewise, the types of MEMS devices can vary from relatively simple structures having no moving elements, to extremely complex electromechanical systems with multiple moving elements under the control of integrated microelectronics.

The one main criterion of MEMS is that there are at least some elements having some sort of mechanical functionality whether or not these elements can move. MEMS technology is now employed in a wide range of sensor and actuator applications. In addition, an emerging use of MEMS technology is as a replacement for traditional crystal oscillators. This article will take a critical look at MEMS vs. Crystals to clarify where each has a place in advanced electronics design.

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