Simulation Research for MEMS

Overview  Software  People  Publications  Presentations  Contributed  Opportunities  Internal



SUGAR is an open source simulation tool for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) based on nodal analysis techniques from the world of integrated circuit simulation. Beams, electrostatic gaps, circuit elements, and other elements are modeled by small, coupled systems of differential equations.

In less than a decade, the MEMS community has leveraged nearly all the integrated-circuit community's fabrication techniques, but little of the wealth of simulation capabilities. A wide range of student and professional circuit designers regularly use circuit simulation tools like SPICE, while MEMS designers often resort to back-of-the-envelope calculations. For three decades, development of IC CAD tools has gone hand-in-hand with the development of IC processes. Tools for simulation will play a similar role in future advances in the design of complicated MEMS devices.

SUGAR inherits its name and philosophy from SPICE. MEMS designers can describe a device in a compact netlist format, and quickly simulate the device's behavior. Early in the design process, quick simulations help designers explore the solution space of their problem and prototype viable designs. Later in the design process, a designer might use other available software packages to run slower but more detailed simulations to check for subtle second-order effects.

For more in-depth information, please see the list of publications or read the SUGAR 3.0 user's manual (pdf).


SUGAR requires MATLAB version 5.0 or later.

Releases of SUGAR include:

  • SUGAR v3.1 and later - go to "files" section in sourceforge, download, and run "sugar_init" in Matlab at startup
  • SUGAR v3.0 win v. 2 (10/7/2002) - have to "cd src" and run "sugarmex" in Matlab at startup to load dll.
  • SUGAR v3.0 alpha (4/5/2002) - includes extensive revisions and linux and windows builds (Matlab 6.x). See the user's manual (pdf).
  • SUGAR v2.0 SUITE (3/14/2002) - added models and increased functionality.
  • SUGAR v2.0 beta (10/18/2001) - improved software architecture for extensibility and portability.
  • SUGAR v1.1 (7/*/2000) - added new models, pull-in voltage analysis, and support for subnets.
  • SUGAR v1.01 (11/*/1999) - added several new functions based on SUGAR v1.0.
  • SUGAR v1.0 (10/*/1999) - added new models including several 3D models and circuit elements. 
  • SUGAR v0.5 (6/*/1998) - Baseline release. Only simulates planar devices with beams, gaps and anchors.


Principal Investigators
Alice M. Agogino
Zhaojun Bai
James Demmel
Sanjay Govindjee
Ming Gu
Kristofer S.J. Pister
Carlo H. Séquin

Graduate Students

David Bindel
Jason V. Clark
Corie Cobb
David Garmire
Sebastian Graf
Raffi Kamalian

Tsuyoshi Koyama
Shyam Lakshmin

Jiawang Nie
Vinukumar Ranganathan
Rasheq Zarif
Ying Zhang

Graduated Students

Ningning Zhou

Undergraduate Students

Wayne Kao
Ernest Zhu


Zhang, Y., Kamalian, R., Agogino, A.M. and Squin, C.H., "Hierarchical MEMS Synthesis and Optimization," SPIE Conference on Smart Structures and Materials, Paper No. 5763-12, March 7-10, 2005, San Diego CA.

Kamalian, R, Agogino, A.M., Takagi, H. "The Role of Constraints and Human Interaction in Evolving MEMS Designs ", 20004 Design Engineering Technical Conference, DETC-2004.

Kamalian, R, Takagi, H., Agogino, A.M., "Optimized Design of MEMS by Evolutionary Multi-objective Optimization with Interactive Evolutionary Computation", submitted to the 20004 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO-2004.

J. V. Clark, D. Garmire, M. Last, J. Demmel. "Practical Techniques for Measuring MEMS Properties." Nanotech 2004, The Technical Proceedings of the Nano Science and Technology Institute, Boston, MA, March 7-11 2004, Vol. 1, pp. 402-405.

J. V. Clark, D. Bindel, W. Kao, E. Zhu, A. Kuo, N. Zhou, J. Nie, J. Demmel, Z. Bai, S. Govindjee, K. S. J. Pister, M. Gu, A. Agogino, "Addressing the Needs of Complex MEMS Design." To appear in MEMS 2002. Las Vegas, Nevada, January 20-24, 2002.

N. Zhou, B. Zhu, A. M. Agogino, K. S. J. Pister, "Evolutionary Synthesis of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) Design." In Proceedings of ANNIE 2001: IEEE Neural Networks Council and Smart Engineering Systems Laboratory. ASME Press, Vol. 11, pp. 197-202. St. Louis, Missouri, Nov. 4-7, 2001.
First Runner-up for Novel Smart Engineering System Design Award

J. V. Clark, D. Bindel, N. Zhou, S. Bhave, Z. Bai, J. Demmel, K. S. J. Pister, "Sugar: Advancements in a 3D Multi-Domain Simulation Package for MEMS." In Proceedings of the Microscale Systems: Mechanics and Measurements Symposium. Portland, OR, June 4, 2001. 

Z. Bai, D. Bindel, J. V. Clark, J. Demmel, K. S. J. Pister, N. Zhou, "New Numerical Techniques and Tools in Sugar for 3D MEMS Simulation." In Technical Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Modeling and Simulation of Microsystems. Hilton Head Island, SC, March 19-21, 2001, pp. 31-34.

J. V. Clark, N. Zhou, D. Bindel, L. Schenato, W. Wu, J. Demmel, K. S. J. Pister, "3D MEMS Simulation Modeling Using Modified Nodal Analysis." In Proceedings of the Microscale Systems: Mechanics and Measurements Symposium. Orlando, FL, June 8, 2000, pp. 68-75.

J. V. Clark, N. Zhou, K. S. J. Pister, "Modified Nodal Analysis for MEMS with Multi-Energy Domains." In International Conference on Modeling and Simulation of Microsystems, Semiconductors, Sensors and Actuators. San Diego, CA, March 27-29, 2000, pp. 31-34.

J. V. Clark, N. Zhou, K. S. J. Pister, "MEMS Simulation Using SUGAR v0.5." In Proc. Solid-State Sensors and Actuators Workshop Hilton Head Island, SC, June 8-11, 1998, pp. 191-196.

N. Zhou, J. V. Clark, K. S. J. Pister, "Nodal Simulation for MEMS Design Using SUGAR v0.5." In 1998 International Conference on Modeling and Simulation of Microsystems Semiconductors, Sensors and Actuators Santa Clara, CA, April 6-8, 1998, pp. 308-313.



SUN visit by Sanjay Govindjee, Oct 2003.

SUGAR 2.0 by Ningning Zhou, Part 1 of Stanford seminar talk, Feb 2001. 

SUGAR 2.0 examples by Jason V. Clark, Part 2 of Stanford seminar talk, Feb 2001.

SUGAR 1.0 and TA analysis by Jason V. Clark, Part 1 of BSAC seminar talk, Nov 1999.

DC, SS and Mode analysis in SUGAR 1.0 by Ningning Zhou, Part 2 of BSAC seminar talk, Nov 1999.


Contributed Netlists / Code
(please submit yours to David Garmire <>) - by Raffi Kamalian, Corie Cobb, and Ying Zhang

Automatically generated ADXL-like accelerometer -- see Kamalian et al. 2004.


Develop a graphical user interface for SUGAR.

See Prof. Carlo Séquin's website for details.

Please post SUGAR questions, comments, and bug reports through: Logo