Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT)

Microsystem Simulation

  • Type: Lecture / Practice
  • Chair: Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Semester: SS 2021
  • Time:

    Diese Vorlesung findet im Sommersemester 2021 nicht statt.

  • Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Jan Gerrit Korvink
  • SWS: 3
  • Lv-No.: 2142875
  • Exam: Verification of learning success is in the form of a written examination (60 min.)
  • Information:

    Lecture is cancelled

Lecture language: English

Short Description

Microsystems are multiphysical devices. For example, in order to measure infrared radiation, a microsystem might use the Seebeck (thermoelectric) effect, which couples heat to electrical currents – thus radiation, heat flow, and charge transport are coupled in a multiphysical manner.

Because microsystemcomponents are very small (in the micrometre range), often the operational modalities will be described better bystatistical mechanics or evenquantum mechanics, so that we have to take caution to use the right models.

In many cases, commercial tools are unavailable, so that engineers are forcedbuild their own simulation programs to be able to make intelligent designs.

In this lecture you will learn the fundamentals needed to build such a computer program. Because we want to be very efficient in learning, and not re-invent all the wheels or confront computer science issues such as compilation and libraries, you will learn to build your program in the higher level programming environment Mathematica ®.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to formulate the finite element method such as needed for mechanics, heat transfer, or transport processes. They will become familiar with approximation using functions, and the relation between a finite element CAD model, and the underlying mechanism to solve the equations, an essential basis for modern engineering design.

Content of teaching

This lecture consists of the following 12 topics, one presented each week of semester:

  1. The Act of Modelling
  2. Mathematica Introduction
  3. Equation Types
  4. Approximation and Integration
  5. Differentiation and Finite Differences
  6. Geometry and Meshing
  7. Weighted Residual Methods
  8. Finite Element Method
  9. Numerical Solving
  10. Computational Post-processing
  11. Program Structure
  12. Commercial Programs

Attendees will first learn how to approach the modelling process. Afterwards, they will learn the fundamental numerical mathematics techniques with which to form numerical simulation models, which in turn will lead to computational programs. The lecture offers one hour of exercises where students can consult the lecturers on the topics of the lecture. Students are offered numerous learning goals per chapter, to simplify the attendence of lectures.

Students are expected to work with the program Mathematica ® to complete their exercises. It provides a symbolical and numerical environment, and offers high level graphics for ease of programming. All programming exercises will be in Mathematica ®, so as to speed up the learning process.

The written examination questions draw from the examples provided during the lecture (recorded on the slides and on the black board during class) as well as from the exercises.


There are no requirements for background, however, I recommend that you have at least the following: Basic knowledge in engineering, physics, and mathematics. Regular attendance is definitely recommended, as well as doing all the exercises.


This lecture is aimed at students who wish to learn the basis of numerical modelling and simulation programs, so as to understand the functioning of these most important engineering design tools. Practical examples are taken from microsystems engineering to illustrate the concepts.


The following references are usedby the lecturers to prepare the lecture. Students are not required to access most of these, but of course it does not hurt! Hints for efficient further reading, depending on interest, will be provided during the lecture.

  • E. Buckingham, On physically similar systems: illustrations on the use of dimensional equations, Phys. Rev. 4, 345–376 (1914)
  • E. Buckingham, Model Experiments and the Forms of Empirical Equations, ASME 263–296 (1915)
  • K. Eriksson, D. Estep, P. Hansbo, C. Johnson, Computational Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1996)
  • Bengt Fornberg, Calculation of Weights in Finite Difference Formulas, SIAM Rev. 40(3) 1998
  • Gene H. Golub, Charles F. van Loan, Matrix Computations, John Hopkins University Press 1996
  • H. Hanche-Olsen, Buckingham’s pi-theorem, Internet (2004)
  • Arieh Iserles, A First Course in the Numerical Analysis of Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1996)
  • Mathematica Help Documentation
  • N. Metropolis, A.W. Rosenbluth, M.N. Rosenbluth. A.H. Teller and E. Teller, "Equation of State Calculations by Fast Computing Machines, J. Chem. Phys. 21 (1953) 1087-1092.
  • Rick Beatson and Leslie Greengard, A short course on fast multipole methods