Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) (also written as micro-electro-mechanical, MicroElectroMechanical or microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems) is the technology of very small devices; it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and nanotechnology. MEMS are also referred to as micromachines (in Japan), or micro systems technology – MST (in Europe).
MEMS are separate and distinct from the hypothetical vision of molecular nanotechnology or molecular electronics. MEMS are made up of components between 1 to 100 micrometres in size (i.e. 0.001 to 0.1 mm), and MEMS devices generally range in size from 20 micrometres (20 millionths of a metre) to a millimetre (i.e. 0.02 to 1.0 mm). They usually consist of a central unit that processes data (the microprocessor) and several components that interact with the outside such as microsensors. At these size scales, the standard constructs of classical physics are not always useful. Because of the large surface area to volume ratio of MEMS, surface effects such as electrostatics and wetting dominate volume effects such as inertia or thermal mass.