At IEEE-3D IC 2009, San Francisco, CA

Paul Werbaneth,Vice President – Marketing and Applications, Tegal Corporation

Just back from a week hiking in Yosemite (thank you John Muir!) and in the Bridgeport – Twin Lakes – Matterhorn Peak area (thank you Gary Snyder/ Jack Kerouac and all past-present-future dharma bums).  Bodie, CA, an abandoned gold mining town at the end of the world (at the end of a three-mile washboarded dirt road, really, off a twelve-mile country road, off CA 395) gives literal proof to the phrase “a flash in the pan,” having been a town of ten thousand upstanding, barely standing, or once-standing citizens only 125 years ago.  What’s left now, with the gold run out, is a collection of highly weathered wooden buildings (most barely standing), a book’s worth of stories great, ghostly, and sad, and a permanent population of zero.  Monument to an American Ozymandias, installed and forgotten over the short span from the time of my grandparents’ births to today:

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

(Thank you Percy Bysshe Shelley.)

But not so here at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco, where the talk is all about 3D System Integration ( .  Now you might have been led to think the papers and discussions today would have all been about 300mm CMOS Logic and NAND Flash stacked integration using through silicon vias, but almost all the papers today (OK, about 75% of the papers) talked about integrating MEMS components with logic, and other functions, using 3D techniques (including TSVs, in situ, or TSVs in interposers), in order to create something new.  Something disruptive.  Something super smartphone. (Just what is the right label for what follows “smartphone”?)

Your supersmartphone will likely have a Dream Chip (Morihiro Kada, Association of Super-Advanced Electronics Technologies, “Development of functionally innovative 3D-integrated circuit technology”) on-board, doing what it is Dream Chips do, perhaps brought to wide-spread commercialization by Qualcomm (Matt Nowak, “High density silicon stacking – how the fabless supply chain impacts technology decisions”).  Something more from Japan, from Tohoku University, hot-bed of MEMS development:  “Heterogeneous integration technology for MEMS-LSI multi-chip module” (K.W. Lee).  (I’d keep my eye turned toward Sendai based on the data here.)

A very interesting paper from the University of Pittsburgh, “3D integrated circuits for lab-on-chip applications (Samuel Dickerson) pulled together MEMS, 3D integration, and the medical research expertise for which Pitt is so well known.  Just waiting for MIT Lincoln Labs to send back the fabricated chip so Pitt can test it.

And, shades of Project Sun SPOT (MEC 2008), Philips (Ric van Doremalen) told us today about a “Miniature wireless activity monitor using 3D system integration.”  It’s got a radio, it’s got a battery, it’s got an antenna, logic, integrated passives, and it’s got a MEMS accelerometer, integrated into about one cubic centimeter of total space.  All for a healthier, better, wirelessly connected you.

G20: The world comes to Pittsburgh, home of MEMS Industry Group

Monica Takacs, Director of Marketing and Membership, MEMS Industry Group

After much preparation, the G20 is finally underway in Pittsburgh. MEMS Industry Group is proud that our fair hometown will be showcased to the world. Hopefully we’ll get rid of our inaccurate reputation as a dirty steel town, an industry that has been gone since I was a little kid in the seventies.

According to the Pittsburgh G20 web site, “The reason the White House chose Pittsburgh was that today it serves as a model for economic and environmental transformation in the United States and abroad. The city has reinvented itself by building a balanced, innovation-driven economy based on its strengths in advanced manufacturing, financial services, information and communications technologies, health care and life sciences, education and research, and energy and environmental solutions.”  This list of innovators includes a hand full of MEMS manufacturers and users.

To kick off the G20, the Pittsburgh Technology Council brought in Eric Schmidt, CEO and Chairman of Google to speak to area technology leaders and to inspire all of us to continue to innovate. Google opened an office in Pittsburgh in 2006. Mr. Schmidt covered many topics that hit home for any successful company, including MEMS companies. He echoed some of the points that were made by the companies that we interviewed as part of the preliminary research for METRIC 2009, in fact.  Mr. Schmidt shared these tidbits of knowledge and recommendation:

  • “Empower your employees” – Mr. Schmidt talked about how employees should love their work. Innovators don’t like being told what to do. Let your employees work on what they are passionate about; you’d be surprised about the innovative new ideas they bring to the table.
  • Know your corporate culture – There is a corporate culture within every company. If you ask the CEO about the culture, you’ll get a different response than if you ask a member of the staff. If you are the CEO, make sure to ask your staff about the corporate culture and learn from them.
  • Transparency – Let your customer know what is going on with your organization. Post everything to your web site, you never know who’s loooking.
  • Advice to young people – Work harder. And older folks should turn off the TV and go talk to the young people around them. Then go work for them.
  • Acquisitions – Look for small innovators to acquire. These companies may enhance your technology, but don’t come with all of the baggage of a larger company. For example, Google recently acquired reCAPTCHA, a CMU spin-off company here in Pittsburgh.

I found his talk to be very timely with the G20 in town. The G20, the economic summit of the world’s largest economies in the world, convenes in Pittsburgh, September 24-25, to talk about the global financial crisis and economic policies.  It’s apparent, that innovators, like those in MEMS and other technologies, will play an important role in improving the world’s economic situation and will continue to move society as we know it forward. Keep up the good fight!!!!

You can read more about the event with Eric Schmidt in the Pittsburgh Business Times. You can learn more about Pittsburgh’s G20 summit at

Thoughts on TSV Technology

Paul Werbaneth, Vice President – Marketing and Applications, Tegal Corporation

The ink was almost dry on the TSV etching chapter I am contributing to a project called 3D Technology Platforms when I opened the newspaper today to read about very interesting news from Elpida regarding TSV-stacked DRAM (here: ).

It’s some kind of harmonic convergence for me, as I sit here thinking about everything I wrote over the last month on TSV etching (which already becomes dated with today’s news), as I sit, thinking, about the nascent DRAM recovery, sit, thinking, about the magnificent Elpida site in the green wooded hills outside Hiroshima, hills set with large farming houses sporting freshly tiled roofs last time I visited, sit thinking about 300mm TSV processing challenges, sit, thinking, about the novel (and movie) Black Rain, and sit, remembering, how I would change trains at the Shin-Hiroshima station in order to reach the Hitachi factory in Kudamatsu after a long day of travel from San Francisco.

You had to be quick:  Shin-Hiroshima to Tokuyama (Kudamatsu) could be a tough connection to make, and you would be stuck for the night if you didn’t.

Through-silicon via technology for 3D IC applications has deep roots in other commercial through-substrate via processing, most notably in compound semiconductor fabrication for components found in your friendly cell- and smart-phone handsets.  And we all recognize how much TSV processing owes to MEMS fabrication, where deep structures in silicon are the name of the game.

Many eyes are now watching for the commercial launch of TSV technology beyond its use today in CMOS image sensors.  DRAM, NAND Flash, memory stacked onto processor chips, all seem fair game for 3D integration, but, with recent and all-too-painful revenue woes being felt from Boise to Seoul, the investment budgets for TSV in memory applications just haven’t been there much this year.

Encouraging, then, to catch a pale view of recovery and progress today over Hiroshima hills.

Retool your strategic thinking skills with the MEMS Education Series

Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

MEMS is hot – it’s hotter than ever. Market research firms expect the total market for MEMS devices to exceed US $8 billion by 2012. Demand for MEMS devices is rapidly creating new business opportunities for both entrepreneurs and established companies alike. As a diverse industry across numerous markets, MEMS poses unique problems for developing and executing profitable business models.

So, how are you going to get the knowledge needed to compete in this increasingly expanding and growing field?

Here’s an idea: clear your calendar for October 14, 2009. Due to the great success of our July 13, 2009 MEMS Education Series short course — Insider’s Guide to Business Strategy for the MEMS Industry – MIG is holding another session on Wednesday, October 14 at the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Silicon Valley.

MIG has compiled years of research, market analysis, publications, survey data, interviews, case studies and lessons learned from the school of hard-knocks to create the MEMS Education Series. The course will be taught by two fantastic instructors, Dr. Jim Knutti and Dr. Alissa Fitzgerald (check out the website for their impressive bios). This is the second time they’ve teamed up to teach a course in MIG’s MEMS Education Series and the reviews have been stellar!

Strategy is the name of the game at this year’s short course. Jim and Alissa will go over MEMS-specific product development, research and development decisions, business models, business and operations implementation, and financial & funding considerations. Plus, they will draw heavily on primary research MIG has compiled in the form of interviews with seasoned MEMS companies. From these interviews they will hash out what has brought companies success in MEMS, how the big players are reinventing themselves during the downturn, as well as key lessons that can be learned from the failures.

Should you attend? You definitely should if you’re a business development professional, marketing manager, or product manager or if you are looking to enter the MEMS industry. This course also makes solid sense for entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, venture capitalists, or engineering students just starting out in MEMS or considering entering the industry.

I look forward to seeing you on October 14 at the Insider’s Guide to Business Strategy for the MEMS Industry!

SEMI MEMS Technical Committee

Tom Morrow, Vice President, Global Expositions & Marketing, SEMI

The MEMS industry is changing from a one-process-per-product technology to a one-process-many-product one.  Critical to this transformation are industry standards that reduce costs and spur meaningful innovation.  The SEMI MEMS Technical Committee has been meeting this challenge since 2003, developing several important standards that have yielded significant benefits to developers, manufacturers and suppliers.

The charter of the MEMS Technical Committee is to develop standards for MEMS devices that cannot be handled by existing semiconductor technical committees. Current topics include Wafer Bonding Alignment Targets; Step-Height Measurements of Thin, Reflecting Films using an Optical Interferometer; and Ultra High Purity Microscale Fluidic Systems for Use in Scalable Process Environments. Recently SEMI announced the latest in the series of MEMS standards, MS8 Guide to Evaluating Hermeticity of MEMS Packages, available to users on-line immediately.  The hermeticity guide is the first to address MEMS packaging and further efforts to standardize the methods used to evaluate MEMS packaging are being evaluated.

One of the goals of the new MS8 guide was to gather and summarize all the hermeticity aspects of MEMS. As more data and MEMS-specific details are gathered, sections of MS8 will be removed, revised, or expanded upon leading to publication of a specification or test method standard.

One topic that the committee is now looking at more closely involves the permeability of sealing materials.  For example, assuming one has inspected the seal for integrity, the bond quality is good at both interfaces and there are no direct leak paths between the external and internal environments, the next concern would be the actual permeation of gases through the seal. Permeation is dependent on both the seal geometries and material properties. The minimum allowable seal width for a given lifetime expectancy of the enclosed device depends on both the seal thickness and the permeability of the material itself. The Committee has prioritized this area because there is little published data on permeability of seal materials used for MEMS.

Another issue of concern is the validity of the current test methods utilized for leak testing and residual gas analysis. Current standardized test methods were developed for packages with larger cavity volumes and have proven to be not reliable or not applicable for smaller volume packages, typically <0.02 cc. The published guide discusses the relevant standard test methods as well as more recently introduced methods, providing an objective opinion on the advantages and disadvantages for each.

Ideally, as the production volume of commercially available hermetic-packaged MEMS increases, a method that supports high-throughput non-destructive hermetic QC of the MEMS devices will emerge. Perhaps one of the methods discussed in the MS8 guide will become a self-contained standard, but further investigation and input from the MEMS industry is required to develop consensus.

SEMI has published seven other standards related to MEMS and is looking forward to publishing more as needed by the industry. Participating in the standards development process provides industry benefits, provides company benefits, and helps advance the knowledge and enjoyment of the individual participants.  Please join us in helping advance the industry in proven and productive ways.

For more information on SEMI MEMS Standards Committee activities, please contact me at or Susan Turner at

Greetings from San Francisco!

Monica Takacs, Director of Membership and Marketing

SEMICON West kicked off today–it was so nice to see so many MIG members at the Extreme Electronics Lounge in Moscone North! Yesterday, our MEMS Education Series short course “An Insider’s Guide to Strategy for the MEMS Industry” took place at the downtown campus of San Francisco State University. It was attended by nearly 30 individuals ranging from current MIG members, entrepreneurs looking to learn more about the business of MEMS, and those looking to gain additional knowledge of the MEMS industry. Instructors Dr. Jim Knutti and Dr. Alissa Fitzgerald did a great job teaching about subjects including the impact of the recent economic downturn, recent strategies by MEMS companies to reposition themselves, the MEMS markets and supply chain revolution, product development, R&D, business and operations, and financial considerations.  The course was very well received and feedback on the exit surveys was very positive.

Today at SEMICON West Karen and I visited members and met with potential new members in the MEMS Lounge area. The morning was filled with presentations specifically on MEMS and included a talk from Jean-Christophe Eloy of Yole Développement on the remaining growth areas for MEMS. Claude Jean from DALSA semi conductor gave a foundry’s view of the MEMS industry. Eric Eisenhut from Kionix spoke about sensor integration is enabling applications and expanding markets. Jeff Hilbert from Wispry gave an overview of RF-MEMS enable mobile handsets, Richie Payne from Pixtronic gave a talk on TFT glass panel fabrication for MEMS displays. Andrew Thompson from Proteus Biomedical closed the MEMS session on his talk about helping to solve the heathcare crisis with MEMS and ICs.

We are very excited about tomorrow’s premiere of Ruth Carranza’s movie on MEMS manufacturing. It will be so great to see so many MIG members showcased in the movie. Stop by the SEMI theater at 1PM to check it out.  We’ll also be hosting the annual MIG members happy hour. Hope to see you there!!!

Live from RoboCup 2009 Day 5

This week Richard Allen, Physicist, NIST, will be live blogging from RoboCup 2009 covering the MEMS-scale robot league.

July 4, 2009, Entry 2:

And some results from today’s activities, in particular the Ball Handling Drill (ETH) and theTwo Millimeter Dash (USNA).

ETH was unable to accomplish the Ball Handling Drill, so that event will have to be called a draw.  Thus the outcome of the 2009 RoboCup Nanogram Demonstration is victory to ETH, with wins in the Two Millimeter Dash and the Slalom Course and a draw in the Ball Handling Drill.

We were all pleased that the USNA team succeeded in getting one of their robots to move.  However, the one that moved appears to be stuck to the surface and is only capable of moving in a spiral.

An accomplishment to celebrate! Although this isn’t as impressive as the performance of the ETH team, the undergraduates of the USNA have nothing to be embarrassed about.  Their work has been seen by thousands of visitors to the hall.

As I write these remarks, Bryan and Ashley have resumed their interrupted honeymoon and Professor Firebaugh is packing with the plan of catching an early plane from Graz.  Tomorrow morning we will pack our boxes and deliver them to the shipping department here at the Stadthalle.  After that some of our group will head towards Vienna to spend part of the day there; others of us will remain here for the awards ceremony at 5:00 p.m., where we will recognize the victorious ETH team.  We will all meet in Vienna tomorrow to catch the 10 hour flight back to Washington, D.C.

This demonstration has shown the potential and challenge of this very difficult application of MEMS.  I may post a follow-up from home with any thoughts.  I hope you will make some comments and suggestions for us as we consider where to go from here.  All the best from Graz.

July 4, 2009, Entry 1:

Today is scheduled the Ball Handling Drill.

Last night the ETH team stay late at the venue to try and solve a serious problem with this event:  their robots cannot distinguish the ball from the surface and simply float over the surface.  This is quite a change from the problem of 2007 of the Robots being likely to stick when they stopped moving.

We also today hope that the USNA team is able to perform the Two Millimeter Dash.  They have set their robots on a field and are attempting to purge all humidity from the playing arena by pumping dry nitrogen through the box and shining the microscope light on the system.

Image 9.1

I’ll report later on the results.

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