Supersmall, superfast

IEC Standardization work makes it possible

By Claire Marchand

Mini, pico, nano, micro are prefixes that are getting ever more common in the electrotechnology world. They are used to describe components, such as MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems), technologies (nanotechnology), installations (pico hydro-stations) or networks (minigrids).

Nano dipole antennas under the microscope. The colors reflect the different transmission frequencies (Photo: LTI).
Nano dipole antennas under the microscope. The colors reflect the different transmission frequencies (Photo: LTI).

Benefits for industry and consumers

The advantages of small components, systems and installations are obvious: new technologies such as printed electronics allow more compact equipment that finds its use where space and weight are at a premium, like on aircraft where avionics products are replacing older analogue systems. The use of MEMS has brought forward a new generation of smaller and thinner portable electronic devices, increasing their performance, accuracy and reliability. Many other industry sectors benefit from these technological advances.

International Standards

The trend towards the production of smaller systems and products has been made possible by the work of dozens of IEC TCs (Technical Committees) and their SCs (Subcommittees), whose title often indicates that their work focuses on small components.

Gallery
Nano dipole antennas under the microscope. The colors reflect the different transmission frequencies (Photo: LTI). Nano dipole antennas under the microscope. The colors reflect the different transmission frequencies (Photo: LTI).
MEMS developed by the Institute for System Level Integration (Photo: ISLI) MEMS developed by the Institute for System Level Integration (Photo: ISLI)
Micro-hydroelectric system in Bhutan (Photo: Schatz Energy Research Center) Micro-hydroelectric system in Bhutan (Photo: Schatz Energy Research Center)