by Paul McLellan, SemiWiki
One of the things about MEMS devices is that they almost always live on a chip that also contains the electronics necessary to process the output from the sensor. For example, an on-chip accelerometer for a car airbag deployment will contain the electronics necessary to process the signal from the sensor and end up with something much closer to “we’re crashing, deploy the airbags” versus “we’re OK, don’t fire off the airbags.”
The design of the MEMS devices themselves are typically done with some form of finite-element analysis (FEA), a very general approach to designing mechanical structures. However, these models of the device are very complex and slow to evaluate due to the huge number of degrees of freedom. This is fine for designing the device itself but for working with the electronics a simpler model of the device is required that is accurate enough for the purpose but is also fast to evaluate.