The Micronium-A Musical MEMS instrument

Johannes Bernardus Charles Engelen, Hans L. de Boer, Hylco de Boer, Jethro G. Beekman, Laurens C. Fortgens, Derk B. de Graaf, Sander Vocke, Leon Abelmann

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    The Micronium is a musical instrument fabricated from silicon using microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technology. It is—to the best of our knowledge—the first musical micro-instrument fabricated using MEMS technology, where the actual sound is generated by mechanical microstructures. The Micronium consists of mass-spring systems that are designed to resonate at audible frequencies. Their displacement is measured by comb drives and is used as the audio signal to drive a loudspeaker. The instrument's sounds are pure sine waves. An extensive set of measurements of individual resonators is presented and discussed. Quality factor measurements at various ambient pressures show that an ambient pressure of 1 mbar results in a note duration of 1 s. The realized frequency deviates considerably from the designed resonator frequency. Measurement results of many resonators are shown to obtain understanding of this deviation. Initial experiments with electrostatic tuning using variable-gap comb drives show a tuning ratio of 5% maximum, depending on the resonator frequency. An audio recording of the instrument is included as a supplementary MP3 file.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)262-269
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of microelectromechanical systems
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


    • EWI-21746
    • TST-uSPAM: micro Scanning Probe Array Memory
    • TST-SMI: Formerly in EWI-SMI
    • Capacitive displacement sensor
    • Musical instrument
    • METIS-286316
    • IR-80055
    • tunable resonators

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