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The term Nanoelectromechanical systems or NEMS is used to describe devices integrating electrical and mechanical functionality on the nanoscale. NEMS form the logical next miniaturization step from so-called microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS devices. NEMS typically integrate transistor-like nanoelectronics with mechanical actuators, pumps, or motors, and may thereby form physical, biological, and chemical sensors. The name derives from typical device dimensions in the nanometer range, leading to low mass, high mechanical resonance frequencies, potentially large quantum mechanical effects such as zero point motion, and a high surface to volume ratio useful for surface-based sensing mechanisms. Uses include accelerometers, or detectors of chemical substances in the air.
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Before NEMS devices can actually be implemented, reasonable integrations of carbon based products must be created. The focus is currently shifting from experimental work towards practical applications and device structures that will implement and profit from the use of carbon nanotubes . At this point in NEMS research, there is a general understanding of the properties of carbon nanotubes and graphene. The next challenge to overcome involves understanding all of the properties of these carbon based tools, and using the properties to make efficient and durable NEMS.
NEMS devices, if implemented into everyday technologies, could further reduce the size of modern devices and allow for better performing sensors. Carbon based materials have served as prime materials for NEMS use, because of their highlighted mechanical and electrical properties. Once NEMS interactions with outside environments are integrated with effective designs, they will likely become useful products to everyday technologies.
(2009), "NEMS," https://nanohub.org/resources/7687.