New MEMS approaches are required for IoT: Page 2 of 3

June 04, 2015 //By Peter Clarke
New kinds of MEMS are needed to drive growth in sensors and the Internet of Things, according a panel of speakers due to convene at the Semicon West event due to be held July 14 to 16 in San Francisco, California.
Getting these new devices into volume production with the fast time-to-market and the low cost that the market demands is pushing the industry towards some new approaches.

“People used to come to us with their own unique process flows that they wanted us to implement, but now more and more people come asking us to use a standard platform as much as possible, with only some modifications,” said Claude Jean, EVP and GM at Teledyne Dalsa’s MEMS foundry, who will also speak at the Semicon West program. “The one product, one process tradition isn’t dead yet, but people are increasingly looking to established platforms on which to develop products,” he added.

Dalsa is now offering an extended range of different platforms, for inertial sensors, microbolometers, optical MEMS, and piezoelectric devices, and extending its design and test support as much as possible.

New platform technologies are coming from R&D laboratories as well. CEA-Leti is aiming to collaborate with foundries to bring its piezoresistive M&NEMS platform to production for more users. The technology uses a thick (>10µm) layer for the moving mass, and a very thin (<500nm) layer for piezo–resistive gauges around its edges to sense its movement by compressing or tensing to change resistance.

“This technology offers an alternative for integrating multiple sensors very compactly, and helps new players, like perhaps systems or CMOS makers, that don’t have their own technology, to develop a product quite fast,” said Hughes Metras, vice president of strategic partnerships, North America, another speaker at the Semicon West event, noting the speed with which its first licensee Tronics got its 6 degree-of-freedom inertial sensor to market.

The maturing of the basic technologies may now also mean the MEMS sector is ready to begin finding benefit from some collaboration on common interests, in things like equipment requirements, or testing practices. There is no widely accepted standard way of measuring performance of inertial sensors yet, and no means like the ITRS roadmap for defining future needs for equipment makers, points out Dalsa’s Jean.