Karen’s blog from IEEE MEMS 2011 in Cancun

In trying to find a core theme to my week amongst the international elite MEMS academe in Cancun I struggled with a one-liner to describe what I saw, heard and experienced. “What happens at IEEE MEMS, stays at IEEE MEMS” kept popping into my head. I’ve never been to IEEE MEMS (gasp) though MIG’s founding was announced at IEEE MEMS ten years ago (in Luzerne Switzerland); but I was seven months pregnant with my first child and hesitant to make the journey there. So in preparation for IEEE MEMS 2011 in Cancun, my expectations were relatively low (to be honest) in terms of networking with the industry/business folks in MEMS. I was there (or so I thought) simply to run a workshop with NIST on MEMS testing protocols/standards.

Hombre, I was totally wrong. In fact, I was really impressed with the mix of academics (truly the best of the best in the world) and the business folks who attended (again, from around the world).  While working the booth with my fav NIST colleagues, Michael Gaitan and Richard Allen I had a great time meeting and greeting several business technologists (working in end-use markets) who were new to the industry and attended IEEE MEMS also for the first time, to learn more about MEMS. I was thrilled to learn that many of these folks recognized the MIG logo and were aware of a few of our programs (hooray! our marketing is working!).

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Magnetic sensor makes electronic compass design easy

Originally posted on Freescale’s Smart Mobile Devices Embedded Beat Blog

Contributed by Mike Stanley


In a past life, while working on Freescale’s digital signal controllers, my coworkers and I considered including Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (MRAM) for use in one of our DSCs. At the time, MRAM was trumpeted as a possible “universal memory,” with write speeds approaching those of SRAM and densities approaching those of flash memory. Since our DSCs included both RAM and flash, we thought we might be able to simplify the architecture by using a single memory to address both dynamic and static code and data storage.

We met with the company’s MRAM technical team to review the technology and consider tradeoffs. After crunching the numbers, we concluded the timing was not optimal for a change in architecture. Move the calendar forward a few years, and here we are in 2011. I’m now part of the Freescale sensors’ operation, and again looking at MRAM technology. But this time around, we’re using Tunneling Magnetoresistive Technology (TMR) as a basis for a new family of devices for magnetic sensing.

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3D InCites In Brief – January 17

Originally posted on 3D InCites’ Francoise in 3D blog

Dear 3D InCites Members,

January has always marked a time of new beginnings for me. Not only is it the official beginning of the new year, but my birthday falls on the 25th, so it’s also the beginning of my own new year. I first launched my blog, Francoise in 3D, on January 18, 2009. It’s been two years, and  followers have gone from 8 on the original blogsite, to 389 on this full-blown comunity devoted to 3D integration. 3D and me, we’ve been growing together. I hope to see it continue. With the ongoing support of our members and sponsors, I’m confident it will.

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Karen’s blog from 2011 SEMI ISS

Contributed by Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

Day One- Monday January 11, 2011

As a benefit of MIG’s partnership with SEMI, I had the immense pleasure of being a guest at their senior executive conference, Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) at Half Moon Bay at one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at – The Ritz-Carlton. The theme of this three-day conference was “the role of capital efficiency through cycles” and what a wild cyclical ride it has been. Seriously, this industry is not for the faint at heart and that must help explain all the drinking…

I came to the conference with the simple goal of learning: learning more about how SEMI does its version of MIG’s annual executive conference, MEMS Executive Congress. I figured I’d also enjoy the benefits at staying at a four (or was it five?) star hotel at one of the most beautiful places on earth = my daily walks on the coastal path were amazing. For those of you who know me you probably aren’t surprised that I also figured I’d pick up a few business cards and meet a few people. J

But what I wasn’t prepared for the magnitude at which I accomplished all those goals. I learned so much about how a premier conference is managed, organized and attended. I met a TON of amazing people running amazing companies in/around semiconductors and got to play another fun round of six-degrees-of-separation Pittsburgh-style, which means that I meet someone from Pittsburgh and I happened to know his oldest and dearest childhood friend (yes I am talking about you, Bruce). I also enjoyed meeting the impressive folks who are running SEMI’s international offices and expos and look forward to working together with them in the future (yes I am talking about you, Mavis and Terry!).

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Looking inside the Hi Technic NXT Accelerometer for LEGO

St.J. Dixon-Warren

Chipworks Inc.


Inertial sensors are becoming ubiquitous in consumer electronics products. Hi Technic now sells a small acceleration sensor, the NAC1040, that is compatible with LEGO Mindstore NTX software. Since it is the Christmas season, we thought we’d have a look inside this clever gadget, since it will likely appear under Christmas trees across the world. And besides, who in the MEMS community did not spend a large part of their youth playing with LEGO.

Figure 1  shows the main printed circuit board (PCB) found inside the NAC1040. It features a Microchip PIC16F677 20-pin flash-based, 8-bit CMOS Microcontrollers and a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer labeled 34AH, which we have identified to be the STMicroelectronics LIS344ALH. A phone-style jack is present inside the grey housing for connection to the external world.

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