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The Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center (BSAC) operates as a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC). BSAC was organized as an NSF Center in 1986 to develop a science, engineering, and technology base for microsensors, microactuators, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). In 1998, BSAC expanded to a multi-campus NSF I/UCRC with the addition of UC Davis, a major campus of the University of California 60 miles from UC Berkeley.

From the beginning, BSAC has, under its NSF I/UCRC charter, focused on providing Industrial Member companies early pre-commercial and pre-publication access to important research results on a highly leveraged basis. This leverage derives from the funding model in which less than 15% of BSAC operating funds are provided from member fees, but in which Industrial Members have access to all research results of the Center. Industrial Member relationships with faculty, graduates, and students create unique opportunities for furtherance of our technology transfer goals.

BSAC includes a multi-disciplinary research team of 120 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers led by 10 BSAC Directors from the engineering faculties of electrical, mechanical, and bio engineering at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. BSAC Directors oversee nearly 100 projects with cooperation, collaboration, and guidance of 30 industrial member companies and government laboratories and 15 additional Affiliated Faculty from UC Berkeley and Davis. BSAC utilizes research laboratories throughout the engineering campuses at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, including intensive use of the UC Berkeley micro fabrication facility (MicroLab).

Major thrust areas of research at BSAC include

  • Wireless Communication and RF Devices
  • Physical Sensors, Actuators, Devices, Circuits, and MicroRobotics
  • Packaging, Processes, Materials and Microassembly for MEMS
  • MicroMechanical and BioElectroMechanical Power Generation
  • CAD for MEMS
  • BioMEMS and MicroFluidics
  • MicroPhotonics
  • Nano Structures and Electro-Mechanical-Bio Interfaces for Nano Technologies

BSAC research exploits the multidisciplinary competencies and visions of the internationally recognized top rank faculty at UC Berkeley and Davis. It is hard to imagine such a team being brought together in any other way.


Starting with the first demonstration of silicon surface micromachining, BSAC Researchers pioneered the development of mechanical and electrical structures utilizing lithography and processing capabilities of the semiconductor industry. Over the years many firsts, milestones, and benchmarks from BSAC research have enabled and led to the expansion of the MEMS approach into a wealth of disparate applications in each of the thrust areas above.

Among the Milestones, Firsts, or significant Benchmarks of BSAC are

Surface Micromachining
Gyro Inertial Sensors and Accelerometers
Thin-Film MEMS Poly-Si, Silicon Nitride, Silicon Carbide
Lamb Wave Acoustic Sensors
Acoustic Wave Micropumps and Mixers
Comb-Driven MEMS Actuators
Pin-Jointed Self-Assembled Micromechanical Structures
Surface-Micromachined Gears, Cranks and Springs
Dimpled Structures for Friction Reduction
MEMS Micro-Vibromotors
Internal Combustion Silicon-Based Rotary Micromotor
Hinged, Fold-Out Micromachined Out-of-plane Structures
Anti-Stiction Elements and Surface Treatments
X–and Y-Rastered Real-Time Projected Display System
RF mechanical resonators and relays
Multi-level PolySi Micromechanics w/on-chip Activation
Folded-mirror Fiber-Optic Microphotonic Systems
MEMS Microfluidic Mixing/Dispensing System
MEMS Based Free-Space Optics
Piezioelectric MEMS Silicon-Diaphragm Microphone
MEMS-Scanned Barcode Reader
Microfluidic Host-Fueled Glucose Microbial Power Cell

Major Current Multi-Project Programs

Integrated wireless microwatt transceiver
Wireless communicating microsensors
Tunable micro capacitors and inductors
Biosensors and biomanipulators
Fluidic microvalves, mixers and micropumps
Adaptive optical micromirror arrays
Rotary engine and microbial power systems,
MEMS-based steered free-air laser communication system
Miniaturized Nano Mechanically Regulated Rubidium atomic clock
Monolithic self-propelled microbotics
Electrical, Mechanical and Bio-Interfaces and structures for Nano Technology
Processes for demonstration and eventual manufacture of many of these.




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