MEMS Pirani Gauge – What Is MEMS Technology?

MEMS Pirani gauge technology is becoming increasingly popular in the field of vacuum creation. But what is MEMS technology and why is it increasing in popularity so, particularly within this field? Read on to discover more about the technology and the systems that use it.

MEMS stands for Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems. As its name suggests, it relates to mechanical and electro-mechanical devices and structures that are miniaturised. These elements are created using microfabrication techniques. The physical dimensions of MEMS devices differ depending on the component and the application of the technology. However, in general, they vary from one micron to several millimetres. MEMS devices themselves range from simple structures that have no moving elements to very complex electromechanical systems that have multiple moving parts. From this definition alone, it is easy to see how a Pirani gauge could be designed to use MEMS technology. Additionally, one of the major criteria of any MEMS technology is that at least a proportion of the elements have some type of mechanical functionality. The functionality requirement is not dependent on whether these parts move or not. In terms of Pirani gauges, the functional elements that would require miniaturisation include the actual structure, including the gauge head, the sensors and the microelectronics. Where the gauge is used in a vacuum system, particularly where it is used in combination with another gauge type to achieve UHV, it is essential that all component parts are compatible with the MEMS technology. Not checking this could cost you both time and money.