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 heartrate 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:

Register Now

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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MEMS Executive Congress Keynotes Explore Advancing Innnovation in MEMS

Perspectives on Financial Investment, Engineering Best Practices, and Forces of Change Affecting Future Success and Adoption of MEMS

MEMS Industry Group (MIG) welcomes three keynote speakers to MEMS Executive Congress , each addressing an important facet of achieving success in MEMS: Scott Livingston, CEO, Livingston Securities, will examine financial investment in emerging technologies such as MEMS; Per Asberg, program director, client partnerships, IBM Rational , will discuss systems engineering best practices that enable companies to deliver on time and on budget; and Aaron Schulman, business director, Toffler Associates, will map out paradigms that will help Congress attendees to attain future success among constantly evolving market dynamics.

MEMS Executive Congress 2011 Keynotes Feature:

Scott Livingston Scott Livingston, CEO, Livingston Securities—“Changing the Way Innovation is Financed on Wall Street,” Wednesday, November 2| 2:15-3:00 p.m.

The Great American Innovation Machine is alive and well, but is suffering due to lack of access to capital. US companies are leading the world in breakthrough technologies in electronics, energy, healthcare and other key industries, but in order to lead the world in the industries of the future, we need Wall Street to stop focusing on leveraged mortgages, prop trading desks and foreign debt and start focusing on helping innovative companies gain access to the capital they need. Drawing on more than eighteen years of working with emerging technologies at Wall Street firms, Mr. Livingston will educate Congress attendees on the changing landscape on Wall Street, offering practical advice on engaging with investment banking services.

Per Asburg Per Asberg, Program Director, Client Partnerships, IBM Rational—“Accelerating Innovation through Systems Engineering Best Practices,” Thursday, November 3| 8:45-9:30 a.m.

Drawing on real-world examples undertaken by IBM, Mr. Asberg will discuss the “system of systems” and will present best practices for helping global engineering teams to produce innovative products within stringent budgets and deadlines. Mr. Asberg has more than 25 years’ experience in consulting services, software product sales, and managing international organizations.

Aaron Schulman Aaron Schulman, Business Director, Toffler Associates— “Shaping the Future: The Drivers of Change,” Thursday, November 3| 4:15-5:00 p.m.

Mr. Schulman will discuss the drivers shaping society, how these drivers might converge to create new challenges and opportunities, and how these changes have implications for Congress attendees and their organizations as they plan for a successful future. With more than 25 years’ diversified consulting experience, Mr. Schulman works within the national security sector of Toffler Associates, and advises senior leaders in their transformation, investment and growth strategies. His clients include the U.S. intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, civilian government agencies and commercial sector clients.

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:

Register Now

New Foundry Friends: MEMS device makers increasingly outsource fabrication

Contributed by Dennis Spaeth, Electronic Media Editor, MICROmanufacturing

Keeping up with the growing demand for microelectromechanical systems used inside devices such as smartphones will require MEMS makers to make some new fab friends—as in foundries that can fabricate the devices, help drive down costs and speed time to market.

A new MEMS piezoresistive, low-pressure sensing die design from All Sensors measures 2mm × 2mm and minimizes position sensitivity because it uses a boss-less structure. Photo courtesy All Sensors.

That’s the trend among a growing number of MEMS device manufacturers. Given the staggering costs associated with building their own fabs, these companies are going fabless—choosing to outsource fabrication of their devices despite having to share intellectual property with a third party.

Though protecting IP remains a stumbling block, many in the industry are convinced that the path to high-volume, low-cost MEMS manufacturing will include more “pure-play” MEMS foundries. And that, in turn, could trigger the adoption of MEMS standards, or at least de facto standards, that some say are required to keep up with the consumer electronic product cycle.

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