by Felix Beyeler, Ph.D.
If you are working in academic research, the field of MEMS development can be very exciting, but it can also be quite stressful. You will spend long hours in the cleanroom and your professor is constantly pushing you to finalize the prototype fabrication in order to start writing scientific publications. You will probably see no sunlight for a while. When developing a new MEMS fabrication process, the first few wafers (or wafer batches) will usually not yield working devices. This is normal -- a PhD thesis would be much shorter otherwise. Depending on the complexity and the novelty of the process, it takes several weeks, months or even years to get a handful of good chips.