Mechanical computing redux: Relays for integrated circuit applications

Vincent Pott, Hei Kam, Rhesa Nathanael, Jaeseok Jeon, Elad Alon, Tsu Jae King Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Power density has grown to be the dominant challenge for continued complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology scaling. Together with recent improvements in microrelay design and process technology, this has led to renewed interest in mechanical computing for ultralow-power integrated circuit (IC) applications. This paper provides a brief history of mechanical computing followed by an overview of the various types of micromechanical switches, with particular emphasis on electromechanical relays since they are among the most promising for IC applications. Relay reliability and process integration challenges are discussed. Demonstrations of functional relay logic circuits are then presented, and relay scaling for improved device density and performance is described. Finally, the energy efficiency benefit of a scaled relay technology versus a CMOS technology with comparable minimum dimensions is assessed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5575378
Pages (from-to)2076-2094
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS)
  • computing
  • energy
  • low-power computing
  • microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
  • nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS)
  • relays
  • scaling


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