Module ICE-4414:
RF & Optical MEMS

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Maziar Nezhad

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to introduce the use and benefits of miniaturised microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in semiconductor based photonic and RF technologies. The module will review the basic mechanical, electrostatic and optical/RF concepts underlying MEMS technology and will present manufacturing processes and applications of the technology. Special emphasis will be placed on using COMSOL Multiphysics and associated toolboxes in this module. Assessment will include mini-projects and presentations, in addition to the traditional written examination. Students will have the opportunity to design a MEMS photonic chip, which will then be fabricated and characterised as part of the practical portion of this module.

Course content

Indicative content includes:

  • Mechanical properties of structures.
  • Electrostatic forces.
  • Guided waves in the RF and optical domains.
  • Photonic chip technology.
  • Optical MEMS systems: Waveguides, Mirrors, etc.
  • RF MEMS systems: Inductors, capacitors, switches, etc.
  • Microfabrication for MEMS.
  • Using software (e.g.COMSOL) for MEMS analysis and design.
  • MEMS photonic chip design.
  • Testing of designed photonic MEMS devices.

Assessment Criteria


Equivalent to the range 70%+. Assemble critically evaluated, relevent areas of knowledge and theory to constuct professional-level solutions to tasks and questions presented. Is able to cross-link themes and aspects to draw considered conclusions. Presents outputs in a cohesive, accurate, and efficient manner.


Equivalent to 50%. Uses key areas of theory or knowledge to meet the Learning Outcomes of the module. Is able to formulate an appropriate solution to accurately solve tasks and questions. Can identify individual aspects, but lacks an awareness of links between them and the wider contexts. Outputs can be understood, but lack structure and/or coherence.


Equivalent to the range 60%-69%. Is able to analyse a task or problem to decide which aspects of theory and knowledge to apply. Solutions are of a workable quality, demonstrating understanding of underlying principles. Major themes can be linked appropriately but may not be able to extend this to individual aspects. Outputs are readily understood, with an appropriate structure but may lack sophistication.

Learning outcomes

  1. Design, model, analyse and evaluate MEMS systems using appropriate simulation software.

  2. Apply MEMS technology and principles to photonics.

  3. Apply MEMS technology to RF engineering.

  4. Understand the underlying principles of MEMS technology.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Final exam

End of module unseen examination.

ORAL Presentation of Assigned Journal Paper

Present a previously published journal paper, on a MEMS-related subject, to tutors and peers and respond to audience questions.


Chip design and presentation of design results.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Individual Project

Individual design project (over two semesters)


Study and presentation of an assigned journal article


Testing and of chip designs followed by discussion of results.


Two hour lectures over 12 weeks (semester 1)

Supervised time in studio/workshop

Office/computer lab hours to discuss miniproject progress

Private study 28

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Identify emerging technologies and technology trends;
  • Apply an understanding and appreciation of continuous improvement techniques
  • Apply underpinning concepts and ideas of engineering;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of electronic engineering in an international context;
  • Solve problems logically and systematically;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions.
  • Analyse and display data using appropriate methods and mathematical techniques;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with relevant subject specific and general computer software packages.
  • Knowledge and understanding of facts, concepts, principles & theories
  • Use of such knowledge in modelling and design
  • Problem solving strategies
  • Knowledge and/or understanding of appropriate scientific and engineering principles
  • Knowledge and understanding of mathematical principles
  • Knowledge and understanding of computational modelling
  • Principles of appropriate supporting engineering and scientific disciplines

Courses including this module