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Nanoelectromechanical systems(NEMS) are drawing interest from both technical and scientific communities. These are electromechanical systems, much like microelectromechanical systems, mostly operated in their resonant modes with dimensions in the deep submicron. In this size regime, they come with extremely high fundamental resonance frequencies, diminished active masses,and tolerable force constants; the quality factors of resonance are in the range —significantly higher than those of electrical resonant circuits. These attributes collectively make NEMS suitable for a multitude of technological applications such as ultrafast sensors, actuators, and signal processing components. Experimentally, NEMS are expected to open up investigations of phonon mediated mechanical processes and of the quantum behavior of mesoscopic mechanical systems. However, there still exist fundamental and technological challenges to NEMS optimization. In this review we shall provide a balanced introduction to NEMS by discussing the prospects and challenges in this rapidly developing field and outline an exciting emerging application, nanoelectromechanical mass detection.
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