Micro-electro-mechanical systems, MEMS, is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary technology within the general field of Micro-Systems Technology which deals with the design and manufacture of miniaturised machines with major dimensions at the scale of tens, to perhaps hundreds, of microns. Because they depend on the cube of a representative dimension, component masses and inertias rapidly become small as size decreases whereas surface and tribological effects, which often depend on area, become increasingly important. Although MEMS components and their areas of contact are small, tribological conditions, measured by contact pressures or acceptable wear rates, are demanding and technical and commercial success will require careful measurement and precise control of surface topography and properties. Fabrication of small numbers of MEMS devices designed to test potential material combinations can be prohibitively expensive and thus there is a need for small scale test facilities which mimic the contact conditions within a micro-machine without themselves requiring processing within a full semiconductor foundry. The talk will illustrate some initial experimental results from a small-scale experimental device which meets these requirements, examining in particular the performance of Diamond-Like-Carbon coatings on a silicon substrate.

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