Micro electromechanical systems, or MEMS
, aren't anything new. But Purdue
University's Jason Vaughn Clark has ideas that are far grander than those we've seen already. Mr. Clark has purportedly developed a new take on an old spin, with electro micro metrology (EMM) enabling engineers to "account for process variations by determining the precise movement and force that's being applied to, or sensed by, a MEMS device." These self-calibrating machines are the first to do so without any external references, which would allow nanotechnologists, crime forensics researchers and a whole host of others to determine what actually happens at a microscopic level. In theory, the gurus working on this stuff long to improve the accuracy of atomic force microscopes and to eventually create a diminutive AFM-on-a-chip, which -- according to Clark -- could "open the door to the nanoworld to a much larger number of groups or individuals." We're waiting.