Browse Definitions:
Definition

smart matter

Smart matter is another name for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), a technology that combines computers with tiny mechanical devices such as sensors, valves, gears, mirrors, and actuators imbedded in semiconductor chips. In 1997, Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California, predicted that MEMS, or what he calls analog computing, will be "the foundational technology of the next decade."

MEMS are already used as accelerometers in automobile air-bags. They've replaced a less reliable device at lower cost and show promise of being able to inflate a bag not only on the basis of sensed deceleration but also on the basis of the size of the person they are protecting. Basically, a MEMS device contains micro-circuitry on a tiny silicon chip into which some mechanical device such as a mirror or a sensor has been manufactured. Potentially, such chips can be built in large quantities at low cost, making them cost-effective for many uses.

Among the presently available uses of MEMS or those under study are:

  • Global position system sensors that can be included with courier parcels for constant tracking and that can also sense parcel treatment en route
  • Sensors built into the fabric of an airplane wing so that it can sense and react to air flow by changing the wing surface resistance; effectively creating a myriad of tiny wing flaps
  • Optical switching devices that can switch light signals over different paths at 20-nanosecond switching speeds
  • Sensor-driven heating and cooling systems that dramatically improve energy savings
  • Building supports with imbedded sensors that can alter the flexibility properties of a material based on atmospheric stress sensing

Saffo distinguishes between sensor-effector type microcomputing (which he calls "MEMS") and micro-devices containing gears, mirrors, valves, and other parts (which he calls "micro-machines").

Much support for MEMS has come from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Research and Development Electronics Technology Office.

This was last updated in April 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • biometrics

    Biometrics is the measurement and statistical analysis of people's unique physical and behavioral characteristics.

  • principle of least privilege (POLP)

    The principle of least privilege (POLP), an important concept in computer security, is the practice of limiting access rights for...

  • identity management (ID management)

    Identity management (ID management) is the organizational process for identifying, authenticating and authorizing individuals or ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close