Accessibility statement

Micro-mechanical and Microfluidic Devices and Systems - ELE00084H

« Back to module search

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

Module summary

This module will develop advanced concepts in two important areas of microengineering – MEMS and microfluidic systems – focussing on the fundamental physical mechanisms that underpin these emerging technologies, approaches to design, fabricate and characterise MEMS and microfluidic devices, and their applications particularly in the chemical, biological and clinical sciences.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

Subject content aims:

  • To provide students with a basic understanding about design principles of MEMS and microfluidic devices, micro-fabrication and characterization of these devices and their application areas (particularly in the chemical, biological and clinical sciences) .

  • To provide experience of micro-fabrication skills in the cleanroom environment, basic observation and characterization of the devices using different microscopy techniques.

  • To understand the challenges towards miniaturisation of the devices.

Graduate skills aims:

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

  • To succinctly summarise a technical project in a short report

  • To develop an awareness of safe laboratory techniques

Module learning outcomes

Subject content learning outcomes

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

  • Have a thorough understanding of and describe the physical principles that underpin mechanics and dynamics of MEMS and microfluidic devices.

  • Be able to demonstrate theoretical and practical understanding of the materials and fabrication methods used in the production of MEMS and microfluidic devices and systems.

  • Have developed proficiency in numerical design, simulation and characterisation of MEMS and microfluidics devices.

  • Be able to describe current and emerging applications of MEMS technology and lab-on-chip systems, particularly in the biological, clinical and chemical sciences.

  • Ba able to demonstrate an understanding of the next-generation of MEMS and microfluidic systems.

  • Design and critically evaluate a microfluidic system to provide hands-on experience.

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 the fundamental scaling laws and physical mechanisms that regulate mechanics and dynamics in geometrically constrained electro-mechanical systems.

  • Numerical methods for the simulation and design of functional MEMS

  • Detailed understanding of microfabrication technology and processes: inc. lithography (optical, x-ray and electron beam), thin film deposition techniques (thermal evaporation, CVD/PECVD, sputtering, ALD), wet and dry etching (RIE and DRIE), wafer bonding and encapsulation.

  • Applications of MEMS inc., metrology (e.g., accelerometers), switches and oscillators, medical diagnostics, energy harvesting, optics/displays

  • Introduction to the fundamental physical mechanisms that regulate fluid dynamics in geometrically constrained systems inc., interfacial, gravitational, viscous and inertial forces, Reynolds number, mass transport.

  • Numerical methods for the design and fabrication of microfluidic devices


Task Length % of module mark
Technical Report
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

As a part of the assessment, you will write an assay (approximately 3000 words) on a theme involving an application (preferably innovative) of either MEMS or Microfluidic system in the area of your choice.

An area of application could be any (but not limited to) from the following categories: automobile, aerospace, communication, road safety, structural safety (mechanical and civil), oil & gas or Bio-Medical Engineering.

The first part of the assay should include an explanation or a reason for selecting the specific application, how this application area is being served currently, a commentary on currently used commercial devices, their limitations and how the proposed device would address the limitation. This part should also include relevant literature and references. (Part 1: 30 %).

The later part should explain the proposed device for specific application with the principle of operation, supporting drawings and literature, range of operation (if applicable). There should be a narration on current competing technologies and commentary on a future potential of the proposed device (Part 2: 70%).


Task Length % of module mark
Technical Report
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:

During demonstrations or practicals in the laboratory, verbal help and feedback will be provided to support development and understanding of micro-fabrication skills.

In classroom spoken feedback or answers to the queries will be provided during and after the lectures.

The students will also have an opportunity to have technical discussions with the module Coordinator during sessions in office hours.

Emails from the students in the form of queries will be answered by the module coordinator as soon as possible.

Indicative reading

Introduction to Microfluidics. P. Tabeling. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Microsensors MEMS and Smart Devices, J Gardner, V Varadan, O Awadelkarim, Wiley, 2007.

Essentials of Micro- and nanofluidics, A. Terrence Conlisk, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Sensor Technology and Devices, Ljubisa Ristic, 1994.

Microsensors, MEMS, and smart devices / Julian W. Gardner, Vijay K. Varadan, Osama O. Awadelkarim, 2001

Automotive sensors / M.H. Westbrook and J.D. Turner, 1994.

Sensors : principles and applications / Peter Hauptmann ; translated by Tim Pownall, 1993.

Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology, Marc J. Madou, 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.