MicroSurfaces, Inc. enables the MEMS industry
MicroSurfaces Inc. (MSI) is a startup stage company founded to commercialize surface coating technologies. MSI is addressing the emerging industry of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), including microarray and microfluidics. The latter two are also called BioMEMS. For micromachines, MSI’s technology provides a low surface energy coating which eliminates the tendency of MEMS parts to stick together or slide poorly; a problem referred to as "stiction", and reduces the problem of long term performance drift due to surface changes. In BioMEMS, MSI’s technology provides low background coatings for the immobilization of biomolecues, such as DNA and proteins, etc., and surface modification for microfluidic devices.
The Problems of MEMS
MEMS, for all of its promise, has been stymied by
a host of problems, many of which have their roots in the very promise
of MEMS, their miniaturization. As any given 3D shape is made smaller,
the ratio of surface area to mass (or weight) increases, and surface forces
begin to dominate over forces such as inertia and gravity. Such surface
forces are primarily attractive forces such as capillary forces, electrostatic
forces ("static cling"), and molecular bonding forces. The consequence
of these surface forces is a tendency for individual MEMS parts to stick
together and to slide poorly, referred to as "stiction"
in the MEMS industry. These high energy surfaces can also lead to the
accumulation (adsorption) of background molecules on microstructures,
resulting in "drift" in device performance.
It is the thesis of MSI that by offering critical surface coating technology to the MEMS industry, MSI can facilitate the realization of the promise of MEMS. For existing products, MSI’s coating can substantially reduce cost and improve reliability, thus allowing these manufacturers to more effectively compete in the market place. Market analysts have already identified MSI as the leader in this unique enabling business (see, e.g., Report by Yole Development, France) and MSI will solidify this leadership position by working closely with foundries to incorporate coating process as a key step in the emerging MEMS standards.