Sensors and Sensing: An Engineer’s View
Concern about the future of industrial societies has stimulated intensive discussions around the world and has led to a number of recommendations. Leading the list is the necessity for a speedy and permanent turn towards resource-sparing and environmentally compatible technologies and innovations. Incentives for this development include the exponential growth of the world’s population, the increasing environmental burdens and our diminishing primary resources. A solution to these problems presupposes ongoing improvements in our technical competence and its optimum utilization.
The following points are to be viewed as especially important fields of application for microtechnologies and nanotechnologies: communication, information/education/entertainment, transportation energy, the environment, buildings/housing/ industrial plants, production, safety/security, medicine and health.
For these fields of application the technological branches of new materials, sensor and actuator technology, microelectronics, optoelectronics, and information storage, electrooptical and electromechanical transducers, generation, distribution and storage of electrical energy, information engineering, intelligence functions and software have key effects that are both wide-ranging and enduring. In coming years, research and development must concentrate on these technological branches in particular. Industry is responsible first and foremost for innovations. It must above all: (i) increase innovative power by more effective cooperation between research, development production and marketing and (ii) improve the climate of innovation by working in cooperation with academia and government.
An improvement in the innovative climate requires a reorientation of the classical division of the research and development process and more effective forms of cooperation between government, national research establishment and industry. Therefore, in order to better convert our scientific competence into economically measurable results, nationally supported research and research in the private sector must move appreciably closer together. It is beyond human capabilities to anticipate technological developments over a relatively long period of time (e.g. a century). Such capabilities are adequate enough at best to obtain information for the next 10 to 20 years on the basis of currently existing knowledge and results, by the use of extrapolation and scenario techniques. The implementation probabilities decrease very rapidly with increasing period of consideration.
KeywordsScanning Tunnel Microscope Surface Acoustic Wave Lithium Niobate Ultrathin Film Microsystems Engineering
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