SYSTEMS OF SYSTEMS

Although microelectronics continue to shrink and more and more processors are embedded in aerospace and electronic systems, even more drastic size reductions are on the horizon. Nanotechnology works at the molecular level to create complex new systems. Chip level integration, including mixing of technologies in the same wafer, is just around the corner. As electronic and mechanical elements are combined on the same piece of silicon, MEMS builds complex machines so small that they are measured in microns. MEMS include systems that integrate electrical, mechanical, optical, fluidic, magnetic and other technologies. The research is supporting the integration of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) gears and actuators into semiconductor assemblies. Micromirrors that individually move can serve as a low cost fiber optics switch. Familiar MEMs that total more than $1 billion in sales include airbag accelerometers, medical pressure sensors, and ink jet printer heads. We may soon have entire inertial guidance systems on a chip combined with a GPS(Global Positioning System) receiver. How far can system size be reduced? Is an entire system on a chip very far away?

Look around. Let your engineering imagination run. Keep in mind that, whatever you envision, the chances are excellent. It will be a system or systems of systems, and will require the experience of many systems and subsystems engineers to bring it into everyday use.

( IEEE Aerospace & Electronic Systems Magazine, Jubilee Issue, October 2000 )

I. Read the text ‘Nano-technology and Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) – Systems of Systems’ and get its central idea.

II. Say which of the facts in the text seems to you the most interesting and new.

III. Find in the text and put down the key words.

IV. Use the key words to retell the text.


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