Course Syllabus EE 397K ADV STDS IN ELECTRICAL ENGR; Unique Number 15330
Spring, 2002; M-W 12:30-2:00, RLM 6.112 
Instructor: Dean P. Neikirk, office: ENS 634, phone 471-4669; MER 1.606C, 1-8549
Office Hours: M-W 2-3; otherwise by appointment (see my office schedule at
Class Web Page:
On-Line Lecture Notes:
On-Line Homework assignments:

Objectives: This is only the second time this class has been offered here at UT-Austin. At this moment I am still adding to the class notes from last year. The overall objective of this class is simple: what good are "micro-machines"? We will begin with an overview of some of the processing techniques commonly used for MEMS fabrication. These techniques are usually adapted from IC processing: we will discuss basic materials, some mechanical properties, then concentrate on deposition, lithography, and etch (wet and dry). We will then discuss applications of MEMS technology to actuation and sensing. I will try to use some "case studies" to investigate the utility of MEMS devices. We will most likely look at temperature, pressure, acceleration, RF, optical, and chemical applications.

Class Projects: You must complete a class project, which will count for 40% of your grade. The project will consist of the identification of a MEMS device/system that is actually used in a commercial product, and a detailed, critical examination of the product development history to identify why/if a MEMS devices actually improved the performance of this system. You will then prepare a written term paper on your findings (thoroughly referenced!!), as well as giving a DETAILED oral presentation (about 20 minutes) to the class. Before making your class presentation expect to spend at least two hours with me, with a return visit to clarify any problems (and I guarantee I will find something to object to) identified in your first meeting with me. Class presentations will begin in early to mid-April. 

Reference texts: Gregory Kovacs, Micromachined Transducers Sourcebook. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998, ISBN 0-07-290722-3.
S. M. Sze, "Semiconductor Sensors," John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994
Ljubisa Ristic, "Sensor Technology and Devices," Artech House, 1994
Julian W. Gardner, "Microsensors - Principles and Applications," John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994
Richard S. Muller et al., "Microsensors," IEEE PRESS 1991
William S. Trimmer, "Micromechanics and MEMS - classic and seminal papers to 1990," IEEE PRESS 1996(?)
N. Maluf, An Introduction to Microelectromechanical Systems Engineering. Norwood, MA: Artech House, 2000.
M. Tabib-Azar, Microactuators: Electrical, Magnetic,Thermal, Optical, Mechanical, Chemical, and Smart Structures: Kluwer, 1998, ISBN 0792380894.
M. Koch, A. Evans, and A. Brunnschweiler, Microfluidic Technology and Applications: Research Studies Press, Ltd., 2000, ISBN 0863802443.

Your grades will be based upon performance on homework, exams, and the class project. Homework will be assigned approximately weekly; credit for late homework will be reduced at a rate of 10% per class the work is late.

The weighting for different areas is:

Homework 20%
Midterm 20%
Class project 40%
Final 20%

The worst-case grades will be based on:
A 100-90% of total points available
B 80-89%
C 70-79%
D 55-70%
F 0-55%

The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic adjustments for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TDD or the college of engineering director of students with disabilities at 471-4382. Please see
LAST DAY TO DROP: 4TH DAY OF CLASSES (Jan. 17); BETWEEN THEN AND Feb. 11 MUST HAVE GRAD ADVISOR'S CONSENT; AFTER Feb. 11 THERE MAY BE AN ACADEMIC PENALTY. MARCH 25: LAST DAY TO CHANGE TO/FROM LETTER GRADE / CR / NC. After March 25 drops allowed only for extreme non-academic reasons. Notice of planned absences for the observance of religious holy days must be submitted two weeks in advance of the date of the absences. (See General Information, chapter 4, for requirements General Information, chapter 4.)

Course Evaluation: University and optional in-house survey during last week of class.

Policy on CHEATING:
You are expected to do your own work at ALL times. I expect you will often discuss assignments, but you MUST do your own ORIGINAL written work. Any evidence of cheating or plagiarism* will be treated as grounds for FAILURE in the class. 

The following is extracted from the document "On Being A Scientist: Responsible Conduct In Research" by the COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, ENG, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING, INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE, NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS, Washington, D.C. 1995. 

Copyright (c) 1994 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced solely for educational purposes without the written permission of the National Academy of Sciences. Internet Access: This report is available on the National Academy of Sciences' Internet host. It may be accessed via World Wide Web at As a case study, note the material below is enclosed in quotation marks, the URL's locating the original material are given, and I have specifically secured NAS permission to reprint these passages in this syllabus.

"May is a second-year graduate student preparing the written portion of her qualifying exam. She incorporates whole sentences and paragraphs verbatim from several published papers. She does not use quotation marks, but the sources are suggested by statements like '(see . . . for more details).' The faculty on the qualifying exam committee note inconsistencies in the writing styles of different paragraphs of the text and check the sources, uncovering May's plagiarism.
"After discussion with the faculty, May's plagiarism is brought to the attention of the dean of the graduate school, whose responsibility it is to review such incidents. The graduate school regulations state that 'plagiarism, that is, the failure in a dissertation, essay, or other written exercise to acknowledge ideas, research or language taken from others' is specifically prohibited. The dean expels May from the program with the stipulation that she can reapply for the next academic year." [ URL:]

"A broad spectrum of misconduct falls into the category of plagiarism, ranging from obvious theft to uncredited paraphrasing that some might not consider dishonest at all. In a lifetime of reading, theorizing, and experimenting, a person's work will inevitably incorporate and overlap with that of others. However, occasional overlap is one thing; systematic use of the techniques, data, words, or ideas of others without appropriate acknowledgment is another." [ URL: ]

Lecture Date
1 1/14
2 1/16 Intro to mems: actuator and sensor examples
3 1/23 Material properties: thermal; mechanical properties
4 1/28 Cantilever beams
5 1/30 Dynamic mechanical response
6 2/4 Force mechanisms: electrostatic, thermal
7 2/6 Basic materials: silicon, impurities, defects
8 2/11 Thin film growth and deposition
9 2/13 Thin film growth and deposition
10 2/18 Lithography
11 2/20 Etching
12 2/25 Bulk and RIE anisotropic etching
13 2/27 Deep RIE, CMP, "Special" mems processes (plating, bonding, etc.)
14 3/4
15 3 /6 
3/11-3/113 SPRING BREAK
16 3/18 Case study: Fabry-Perot pressure sensor
17 3/20 Case study: design of F-P sensor for yield; inductive sensors
18 3/25 Case study: bolometers for electromagnetic detection
19 3/27 thermal losses in bolometers; fabrication; performance
20 4/1 chemical sensors: gas/vapor phase
21 4/3 chemical sensors: liquid phase
22 4/8
23 4/10
24 4/15 Student presentations:
25 4/17 Student presentations:
26 4/22 Student presentations:
27 4/24 Student presentations:
28 4/29 Student presentations:
29 5/1 Student presentations:

FINAL: TUESDAY, May 14, 9:00-12:00

Links and resources for MEMS related information:

Also see my other list of reference materials .

Return to the Microelectromagnetics Devices Group .

Refs list for chemical sensors .