Microtechnology is technology with features near one micrometre (one millionth of a metre, or 10−6 metre, or 1μm).
In the 1960s, scientists learned that by arraying large numbers of microscopic transistors on a single chip, microelectronic circuits could be built that dramatically improved performance, functionality, and reliability, all while reducing cost and increasing volume. This development led to the Information Revolution.
More recently, scientists have learned that not only electrical devices, but also mechanical devices, may be miniaturized and batch-fabricated, promising the same benefits to the mechanical world as integrated circuit technology has given to the electrical world. While electronics now provide the ‘brains’ for today’s advanced systems and products, micromechanical devices can provide the sensors and actuators — the eyes and ears, hands and feet — which interface to the outside world.
Today, micromechanical devices are the key components in a wide range of products such as automobile airbags, ink-jet printers, blood pressure monitors, and projection display systems. It seems clear that in the not-too-distant future these devices will be as pervasive as electronics.