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Principles of Microengineering - ELE00071H

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  • Department: Electronic Engineering
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Chun Zhao
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

The module aims to provide students with a basic understanding of the science, design, fabrication and characterisation of devices and systems manufactured on the micrometre scale and the use of these devices across a range of application areas.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Subject content aims:

  • To introduce the students to the basic concepts of the science, design, fabrication and characterisation of devices and systems manufactured at the micrometre scale;

  • To provide the students the basic understanding and knowledge to use these devices across a range of applications.

Graduate skills aims:

  • To develop skills in the selection and application of appropriate numeric and algebraic techniques.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand and apply scaling laws that underpin mechanics and dynamics of microengineered devices.

  • Describe the conventional materials and fabrication processes employed for manufacturing of microdevices.

  • Describe the key metrology techniques employed for the characterisation of microengineered devices and systems.

  • Discuss a wide range of commercial microengineered devices and systems and their applications.

Graduate skills learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Explain and evaluate advanced technical concepts concisely and accurately

  • Select, adapt and apply a range of mathematical techniques to solve advanced problems

  • Demonstrate skills in problem solving, critical analysis and applied mathematics

Module content

Introduction to microengineering including definitions and historic perspective.

  • Introduction to scaling laws; mechanics and dynamics at the micrometre scale; and basic transistor level circuits (e.g., inverters).

  • Materials for microdevice fabrication inc., silicon, silicon on insulator (SOI), thin film silicon, dielectrics (high K and low K), metals and polymers.

  • Introduction to microfabrication: inc., silicon wafer technology, lithography, thin film deposition (CVD and PVD techniques), wet and dry etching

  • Fundamentals of device characterisation: inc., optical microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, optical spectroscopy, ellipsometry, x-ray spectroscopy, nano-indentation, scanning probe techniques.

  • Principles and applications of microengineered systems inc., mechanical transducers (e.g. inertial sensors), biosensors, timing references, micro-fluidics, energy harvesters, diodes/photodiodes.


Task Length % of module mark
Final Report
N/A 75
Tutorial Questions 1
N/A 12.5
Tutorial Questions 2
N/A 12.5

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The assessment consists of two parts:

1. Tutorial questions (25%, 12.5% each): 1 worksheet handed out ~wk 5 and the other ~wk 8. You will be solving ~5 problems using the knowledge learned to this point. The first worksheet will primarily focus on scaling laws and dynamics at microscale. The second one will centre around principles of microfabrication and characterisation technologies.

2. Final report (75%): You will be supported to identify an area of your interest, e.g., robots, medical devices, flexible wearables, and sustainability, and write a short (ca. 2500 words max) report about the existing challenges (e.g., miniaturisation, power limitation, cost reduction, portability) in your chosen field, and discuss how some of the challenges can be addressed using various technologies in Microengineering. The report should be suitable for a lay reader.


Task Length % of module mark
Final Report Reassessment
N/A 100

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme. We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments. A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback.

The School of PET aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme. In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work. The School will endeavour to return all exam feedback within the timescale set out in the University's Policy on Assessment Feedback Turnaround Time. The School would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The School will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum. Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate. Meetings at the start/end of each term provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date.

Formative feedback:

Emails to the Module Coordinator with Questions / Comments will be answered as soon as possible.

Questions can also be submitted at any time via the Question Box on the module Wiki page.

The students can have technical discussions with the module Coordinator during open office hours.

Summative feedback:

Two sets of tutorial questions will be handed out on Week 5 and 8. Feedback on these tutorial questions, with comments on how the students can improve on their work, will be available to the students typically within 5-10 working days after submission.

Indicative reading

Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology, Marc J. Madou, Taylor & Francis, 3rd Edition, 2011

Microsystem Design, Stephan D. Senturia, Springer, 2000

Practical MEMS: Design of microsystems, accelerometers, gyroscopes, RF MEMS, optical MEMS, and microfluidic systems, Ville Kaajakari, Small Gear Publishing, 2009

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.