Have you ever wondered where the term "MEMS" came from?

Read J.E. Wood's account:

Click Here:  A brief history of the term Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS)

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Crystallography Kit


This kit is supported by the Crystallography Learning Module.

The kit activities allow participants to explore the crystal structure of silicon and crystal planes as defined by the Miller Indices.  The Crystallography Kit contains both (100) and (111) type silicon wafers (wafers with two different crystal orientations) that are used in the "Breaking Wafers Activity".  The kit also contains 12 origami templates that are needed for the "Origami Crystal Activity".  Additional templates can be downloaded using an URL provided in the activity.

The included Crystallography Overview Learning Module presents a third activity that allows participants to demonstrate their understanding of the Miller Index.  This activity requires that the instructor provide three straight edges (such a rulers or yard sticks) and a rectangular piece of cardboard.   See more….
Kit refills are available which consist of replacement, (100) and (111) silicon crystal wafers.

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Where can I use this kit?  Why would I care?

If you teach a course in MEMS fabrication, mathematics, materials science, semiconductor technology, physics, electronics, chemistry, nano-science or nano-technology, you can easily find a use for this hands-on classroom kit and supporting learning module.

  1. Crystal Structure (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science) - Crystals are often taught in earth science classes and kids often make sugar crystals in elementary school.  This learning module and associated hands-on activities takes your students much further into the science of crystals.  Using the Miller indices students learn how to navigate inside of a crystal and identify its various planes. The application of Cartesian coordinates to describe the structure of crystal planes takes the students to a new level of understanding an application of the classic x,y, and z coordinate system. 
  2. Material Science, physics, electronics, nano and chemistry - Crystals have different physical properties depending on the orientation and structure of the crystal (monocrystalline or polycrystalline).  For example, electron flow (current) varies depending on the direction within the crystal and the type of crystal.  Mechanical properties such as the bulk modulus of elasticity is different in different directions and etch rates of crystal planes vary depending on the specific plane being etched. The atomic based structure on the nano scale influences these macro properties.  The design and fabrication of computer microcircuits (semiconductor technology) and micro systems transducers and actuators (MEMS) leverage these properties.

The three activities of the Crystallography Learning Module:


The instructor-lead "Miller Index Activity" gives the students the tools to navigate within a crystal.  Students will demonstrate the direction and orientation associated with different crystal planes so that when they move to the next activity - it all makes sense.

The "Origami Crystal Activity" is based on Dr. Jack Judy's Crystal Origami template.  The students assemble a representation of a silicon crystal.  This multi-faceted "rhombicuboctahedron" allows students to exercise their fine-motor skills while applying what they learned about Miller indices to the silicon crystal (diamond) structure.  This template is loaded with information including silicon etch and silicon dioxide growth as a function of crystal plane orientation, plane orientation, and atomic arrangements as seen from different angles.  This activity can be an interesting addition to many STEM courses.

The "Breaking Wafers Activity" allows students to apply destructive testing in learning about crystal structure.  Many students have been exposed to the techniques, at least in theory, of cleaving a diamond along different cleavage planes to produce multi-faceted jewels.  Silicon crystal has the same structure as diamond jewels.  In this activity, students break crystal silicon wafers of two different orientations and using their new knowledge gained in the learning module, identify what orientation each wafer is based on how it breaks.

Application in Microsystems Technology - Microsystems fabrication and design make use of the crystal properties both in the manufacturing of mechanical and electrical components.  It is important for technologists entering this multidisciplinary field to have an understanding of these concepts.  It is also critical for students to make the connection between the STEM concepts and future employment.  You will reduce the frequency of the question "When will I ever use this?"




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