System Info

The Class on a Chip System is a state-of-the-art and user friendly way to access the microscopic world. The System includes a MEMS chip with multiple, user-controllable devices and a custom power-supply specifically designed to power the microdevices. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) allow on-screen control of devices. A microscope is needed to image the motion of the devices.


What can the System be used for?

  • High school level physics and engineering experiments
  • College level physics and engineering experiments
  • Conducting MEMS and nano experiments

What computer and software are needed to control the System?

The System will run with most PCs. A USB cable connects the power supply to the computer. LabVIEW based GUI's and a USB driver are included with the System.

What type of microscope is needed to view the MEMS Chip?

The MEMS devices can be viewed with either a conventional optical microscope or with a digital microscope. The chip has to be illuminated from above, so a light source is needed. An optical microscope (at least 70X magnification) with a digital eyepiece camera is a good option. We offer a compact digital microscope from Dino-Lite. The 500X (fixed magnification) Pro model offers a good combination of field-of-view and resolution. Digital microscopes allow the video image of the device in motion to be streamed to the computer monitor.

Can the System be used with a video projector or Smart Board?

When using a digital microscope, both the microscope video image and the GUI can be projected allowing the System to be viewed by a large group. The System can be run with a Smart Board and any other touch screen interface. Touch-screen interfaces can enhance the user experience and are a great way to get kids actively participating in the experiments.

How long does it take to set up the System?

The initial set up is approximately 15 minutes. Once the control software and USB driver is installed on the computer, the System can be set up in approximately 5 minutes. A chip map is included on each GUI allowing the user to quickly find where the chip needs to be positioned under the micrscope.

 What MEMS technology is used in the System?

The MEMS chip used in the System is fabricated at Sandia National Labs using the SUMMiT V polysilicon MEMS process. This foundry process incorporates 5 layers of polysilicon and a top metal layer allowing complex electro-mechanical structures to be realized.