The term nanoelectromechanical systems, or NEMS, is used to describe devices that integrate electronic and mechanical functionality at the nanoscale. NEMS is the next logical step in the miniaturization of microelectromechanical systems or MEMS devices. NEMS typically integrate transistor-like nanoelectronics with mechanical actuators, pumps or motors to form physical, biological and chemical sensors.
The name derives from the typical device size in the nanometer range, which results in low mass, high mechanical resonant frequencies, potentially high quantum mechanical effects such as zero point motion, and a high surface-to-volume ratio useful for surface sensing mechanisms. Applications include accelerometers or airborne chemical detectors.