Wearables get their own MEMS: Page 2 of 3

June 17, 2015 //By R. Colin Johnson, EE Times
Ultra-low power followed by ultra-small size are the two most important aspects of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors used in wearables. MEMS manufacturer mCube Inc., (San Jose, California) discovered this in its research and has set out to meet that not-so-tiny goal.
How does it work?

The way mCube achieves its 1-by-1 millimeter die size is by using a special 8-inch wafer fabrication facility at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC, Hsinchu, Taiwan) whose front-end fabs standard CMOS chips, but then switches to MEMS processing steps in the middle of the line thereby enabling a MEMS+CMOS chip to be created on a single fab line in 3-D with normal vias. As a result, there are no bonding wires to pick up RF interference or come loose, and much less parasitic capacitance than with the usual two-die solution, according to mCube.

As the self-proclaimed maker of the world's only monolithic MEMS+CMOS single-chip sensors, mCube offers accelerometers, magnetometers and soft gyroscopes (combining its accelerometer chip with an Alps magnetometer) and holds a portfolio of 122 patents filed, and 48 granted, to prevent copy-cats from following their example.

So far, it has shipped 100 million of these MEMS devices into the smartphone and tablet market. And it hopes its newly redesigned ultra-low-power MEMS chips will capture an equally significant portion of the emerging wearables market.

At its introduction today, the first member of the MC3600 family of ultra-low-power inertial sensors for wearables the MC3610 three-axis accelerometer in 2-by-2-by-.94 millimeter 12-pin package will also be available on a fast-start prototyping board the EV3610A. Today the MC3610 is in sampling, but will be in mass production by the end of the year. Also later this year, mCube promises to introduce new members of the family, assumedly an ultra-low-power software gyro and magnetometer. All parts and boards will be available from Mouser.

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