The evolutionary path of MEMS manufacturing guides Okmetic’s R&D activities

Due to the versatility of MEMS technologies the industry still lacks a comprehensive roadmap


Contributed by Markku Tilli, Okmetic

The MEMS technology has evolved a lot during the past few decades. However, it still lacks the same kind of exhaustive roadmap that the semiconductor technology has had already since the 1990’s. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, ITRS, has expanded over the years, and it covers nearly 20 chapters and well over thousand pages now. It includes forecasts on all aspects from materials to packaging and from design to environmental issues. SEMI has also organized sessions on standardization for some years now and the industry has established some globally accepted technical standards.

The MEMS industry still has a long road to travel to get to the same position where the semiconductor industry is at the moment. The need for a MEMS roadmap was only recognized in the MEMS Industry Group’s Metric workshop in March 2010. Since then the MEMS Industry Group has been working to develop a roadmap, and they have started the massive project with the standardization of testing methods. In the future, these testing standards and test method specifications could act as the nuclei of an International Technology Roadmap for MEMS, ITRM, which could mimic the structure of the semiconductor roadmap, ITRS.

One does not need to look into a crystal ball to predict, that it will still take years to develop a comprehensive roadmap, as it took with the semiconductors. What makes the task challenging is the versatility of different MEMS platforms and technologies.

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Fragmented microfluidics market means fragmented materials opportunities

Contributed by Frédéric Breussin, Yole Développement

Driven by impressive recent progress in automating the identification of genes and proteins, the microfluidics market is approaching ~$1.5 billion and is on a steady ~20% annual growth path going forward. But the highly diverse range of products in the sector means highly fragmented demand for processes and materials.

Major segments driving growth require products with entirely different requirements for everything down to the substrate materials. Point-of-care clinical diagnostics devices demand low cost, disposable cartridges in automated testing systems to make the tests affordable. The R&D market, in contrast, looks for very precise, very complex chips to quickly test one sample against thousands of targets at once, to save researchers’ time and replace large complex equipment to bring its big savings.

But the choice is not as simple as just low cost plastic vs. more precisely patterned glass. Production volume, application, type of patterning, and optical properties all impact material choice, for both cost and performance.

Market size is one consideration. Polymer costs a fraction of a cent per square centimeter, while glass costs $.02, but glass is actually the lower cost choice for all but high volume production. A device on glass can be prototyped and then directly scaled up to volume production on the same equipment, so manufacture of low to mid volumes is cheaper than with polymer. Injection molding of polymer devices requires first making a costly mold, so costs come down only when that can be amortized over high volumes. Those volume requirements also mean that injection molding is not practical for making prototypes, so that’s usually done using PDMS or some other cheap and convenient material, so some redesign will often be required to port the process to injection molding for production.

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MEMS Industry Group Announces Finalists for MEMS Executive Congress Technology Showcase

New demo event promises closer look at some of the coolest, most compelling MEMS-enabled applications

MEMS Industry Group’s (MIG) first “MEMS Technology Showcase” will give MEMS Executive Congress attendees an intimate look at some of the most unique MEMS-enabled applications in the business. After a competitive application process, MIG selected seven finalists that show how MEMS enhances the user experience with electronic devices, highlighting the “MEMS inside the machine.” Each finalist will get five minutes to wow the audience, who will text-message votes for their favorite demo. Panel moderator Bryan Hoadley, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Movea, will “crown” the winner at the end of the day.

MEMS Technology Showcase finalists include:

Intel “Red Ridge” from IntelA new tablet form-factor reference design enabling OEM customers and developers to design and manufacture products using the “Medfield” platform. “Medfield,” Intel’s next-generation, 32nm SoC processor, will support the development of devices with even lower power, smaller footprints, more integration of features and stunning performance. “Medfield” is compatible with the Intel® Wireless Display technology, which eases the sharing of high-definition content wirelessly among a tablet, PC and TV.
MicroVision ShowWX+™ HDMI from MicroVisionA high-brightness, handheld pico projector that lets users project images, presentations and video as large as 100 inches across from an iPhone®, iPad® or laptop—onto any available surface. With the addition of an HDMI input, the ShowWX+HDMI supports the connection to a broad array of new host devices that have HDMI as their output standard.
Proteus Biomedical The Raisin System from Proteus BiomedicalCombines pharmaceuticals, medical devices, telecommunications and social networking in a seamless solution. The Raisin System delivers a fully integrated wellness experience, combining daily medications with the information, education and motivation consumers and their families need to maximize individual health outcomes. The core enabling innovations of this system are the Proteus Ingestible Event Marker (IEM), the Raisin Personal Monitor and the HealthTiles application environment.
Recon Instruments MOD Live from Recon InstrumentsAn interactive display for the world’s first GPS-enabled goggles. New this fall, MOD Live snap-fits into Recon-ready goggles, delivering sleek graphics and smart optics that are completely non-obtrusive for front and peripheral vision. MOD Live offers real-time feedback, including speed, jump analytics, latitude/longitude, altitude, vertical distance travelled, total distance travelled, chrono/stopwatch mode, a run-counter, temperature and time. MOD Live also integrates with Android smartphones for additional apps and live connectivity, giving access to navigation, resort points of interest, caller ID, text messaging, MP3 playlists, buddy tracking, wireless camera sync, and much more.
ROR3 Devices MEMS-Based Heart Rate Monitor from R0R3 DevicesA MEMS-based heart-rate monitor which provides advantages over chest strap electrocardiograms (ECG), offering accurate heart-rate measurement for wearers engaging in periodic motion such as running, doing push-ups or jumping jacks. It is also ideally suited for medical applications. The monitor offers an innovative wireless ANT+ communications and conforms to the basic profile for heart-rate monitor for GPS watches, such as Garmin and others. Other models communicate directly with Droid and iPad for remote patient monitoring.
Sunrex The Air Mini Keyboard from SunrexAn in-air remote control with integrated keyboard used by the PayTV industry for interactive TV applications and media control. The Air Mini Keyboard is also ideal for PC-connected home theater applications. The new keyboard is currently in production for large OEM customers.
Syride Sys-Evo™ from SyrideA light (110 g) and compact (12.5 x 10.5 x 2 cm) electronic module for surfboards. Sys-Evo monitors wave height, wave direction, distance traveled, and the duration of the wave. It also monitors the surfer’s actions (waiting time, paddling, riding), providing information on a surfer’s strengths and weaknesses and benchmarking performance relative to the athlete’s own goals and to the competition.

Register today for MEMS Executive Congress!

As a business rather than a technical conference, MEMS Executive Congress provides a unique forum for MEMS solution providers and OEM integrators to exchange ideas and information during panel discussions and networking events. This truly unique two-day event is the year’s must-attend conference for the entire MEMS supply chain.

If you have not registered yet, you can do so via the link below:

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The Wireless Story at the 2012 International CES

Originally posted on the CEA Digital Dialogue

What in the tech world today isn’t wireless? It seems as though almost everything is. The 2012 International CES will have an expanded lineup of wireless exhibits to highlight this industry trend. Specifically, two TechZones – Access on the Go and new MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) – will highlight the paradigm of the new connected consumer through wireless technology.

The e-reader, tablet and products that blur the line between the two are flooding the marketplace. The Access on the Go TechZone will highlight mobile devices that deliver on-the-go content like music, movies, television, books and magazines.

Applying MEMS for Quality of Life

By Karen Lighman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group and  Donna Sandfox, Product Manager, MEMS Sensors, Omron

Originally posted on Electronic Products

Use of MEMS flow meters in a heart replacement system lets stable patients stay comfortably at home, rather than in hospital

MEMS technology is enabling new biomedical applications that improve quality of life (QoL) in a variety of ways. Providing intelligent sensing and actuation — which can be combined with electronics processing “muscle”–like ASICs, microprocessors, and even DSPs — MEMS enables a high degree of interactivity with the environment. MEMS packs this intelligence into a small footprint, making it the ideal companion for resource-constrained applications.

At a recent symposia convened by the MEMS Industry Group, some of the top innovators in biomedicine explored the use of MEMS in life-enhancing and life-saving QoL applications. Dr. Marvin J. Slepian, co-founder, chairman, and chief scientific and medical officer at SynCardia Systems (, delivered a presentation on recent advances in SynCardia’s Total Artificial Heart, a temporary, bridge-to-transplant heart replacement. The advance serves as an outstanding example of the state of the art of MEMS applications in medicine.

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