MEMS Product Development Challenges – Sweet Dreams and Nightmares

By Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

MEMS product development is not for the faint of heart. Though you will see many success stories in the industry, you will also see many failed ventures (did anyone say “telecom bubble?”), several bankruptcies (TeraVicta to name one), gray hair (or no hair), and divorces (sad, but true). And then there are the companies that are just middling along, waiting to break through – we have a duty to help them break out –  now!

That’s why I aptly titled our upcoming 2nd annual MEMS Industry Group (MIG) workshop with BSAC, on September 19, “MEMS Product Development Challenges – Sweet Dreams and Nightmares.” We have a lot to be proud of in the MEMS industry, but we still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve on in order to grow. We may be a $10B/year industry now; but to get to my dream of “MEMS frickin’ everywhere,” we need to do more.

All year long, MIG’s theme for content and programs has been focused on addressing MEMS product development and commercialization challenges. Our annual technical members meeting, M2M Forum, focused on MEMS new product development and we invited Len Sheynblat of Qualcomm to give a keynote on the real truth about what makes integrating MEMS and sensors into end-use mobile devices so darned hard and complicated: a lack of MEMS standardization. We teased out the differences and nuances between MEMS technology push and market pull; when, what and how it matters and why we should care. We developed a MEMS Technology Development Process Template to help managers navigate the gating process to determine when and if a MEMS device is a GO or NO GO. Additionally, MIG has worked closely with our MIG Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to ensure the content of our MEMS Education Series webinars is focused on MEMS product development.

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The Dirt on the Cleanroom: Silicon Carbide Power Semiconductor Devices

Ron Olson

By Ron Olson

Electrical Technologies and Systems
Niskayuna, NY USA

Originally posted on GE Global Research’s blog: Edison’s Desk

As the Wide Bandgap Process and Fab manager for the GE Global Research cleanroom, I wanted to take some time to give you the dirt on our clean room over the next few months. In other words, share with you a bit about the technology we’re developing right now, that will change the future.

Every day in our cleanroom, our technology teams are dedicated to a specific technology such as MEMS, Wide Band Gap, Advanced Packaging, Photovoltaic (PV) and Nano. Below is a quick update from our Wide Band Gap team. If you’d like to learn more about our space in general and our team, check out the short clip below.

Currently, we’re developing Silicon Carbide (SiC) power semiconductor devices, including world-leading SiC MOSFET devices at the 1200V and 3300V rating classes.

These devices are capable of:

  • blocking high voltages in the off-state
  • conducting current with low resistance in the on-state
  •  ultra-fast switching speed and high-temperature operation

These advantages over current technology will allow GE to improve energy efficiency while significantly reducing the size and weight of systems for a wide variety of applications including power converters, general controls, and solid state power distribution based products for GE Aviation, Energy and Healthcare.

Look out in the coming weeks for another update!

Ron & team

Karen’s blog from GE Global Research, Niskayuna

By Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

Perched on a bluff overlooking the Mohawk River in Niskayuna, NY is a powerhouse of industrial R&D; GE’s Global Research Center (GRC). GRC just celebrated its 110 year anniversary. Thomas Edison’s original desk is on display in the entry lobby to prove this point!

The Niskayuna facility is the largest of several GRCs. GE also has centers in Munich, Germany; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and San Ramon, California.

The history of invention and innovation that has taken place at GRC to create major new businesses was on display as we walked along the entry hall. Some highlighted examples include x-ray medical imaging, jet engines, magnetic resonance imagers, digital x-ray panels and a number of other world firsts. The Research Center in Niskayuna is one of the world’s largest corporate R&D centers that conducts focused, strategic research and development. This is GE – after all – and GE has the demonstrated ability to identify new business opportunities, utilize its research capacity to develop the required technologies in collaboration with GE businesses, and then to grow these businesses globally. As such, the master plan needs significant R&D capability to back it up.

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MEMS Industry Group Showcases the Future of MEMS at MEMS Executive Congress 2012

Suppliers and OEMs to explore MEMS’ connection to emerging apps in biomedical/quality of life, consumer, robotics, smart energy, and more at annual executive conference

MEMS Industry Group (MIG) will host MEMS Executive Congress® 2012, the annual business conference and networking event for the MEMS industry, November 7-8, 2012 in Scottsdale, AZ. Keynote speakers include: Ajith Amerasekera, TI Fellow, IEEE Fellow, in Texas Instruments’ Kilby Labs, who will discuss how immersive intelligent systems will change the management of our cities, buildings, personal life, health, transportation, safety and security; and Robert Brunner, founder, creative director and partner, Ammunition. Brunner, who first made his name as director of industrial design at Apple Computer, will explore the critical connection between brand identity and connection to consumers—going far beyond the typical form-and-function paradigm of classic industrial design. Industry panels and the MEMS Technology Showcase®—featuring some of the most unique MEMS applications—complete the MEMS Executive Congress 2012 program.

“MEMS is everywhere. From smartphones, tablets and video games to automotive stability control systems, airbag crash sensors and blood-pressure monitors, we are using MEMS to improve our everyday lives in ways that we could have scarcely imagined just a few years ago,” said Karen Lightman, managing director, MIG. “At MEMS Executive Congress 2012, we will take a collective look beyond the mainstream applications of MEMS. Will smartphones become intelligent aids for people with Alzheimer’s or autism? Will we still ‘drive’ or will MEMS-enabled automobiles safely guide us to and from our destinations on MEMS-enabled roads? And where is my MEMS-enabled personal robotic assistant? At MEMS Executive Congress, we will tap some of the most influential, innovative minds in the industry to examine the most pressing business issues affecting the future of MEMS. We will also get up close to some of the best examples of the MEMS inside the machine during our popular MEMS Technology Showcase.”

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Accelerometer placement – where and why

By Michael Stanley

Originally posted on Freescale’s The Embedded Beat blog

A question that should be asked during physical design of any product incorporating sensors is: “Where should be sensors be located within the product?” Like almost anything else in life, “It depends … ” is the answer. This post discusses accelerometer placement. We’ll touch on magnetic sensors next time around.

If your application is such that the sensor is statically fixed in space, or at least not rotating, it doesn’t really matter where you mount the accelerometer on your board. But if the device can rotate, things get a lot more interesting.

The rate of change transport theorem, which can be found in any rigid body dynamics textbook, relates the rate of change of a vector r as observed in two different reference frames.  For our purposes, the first is the fixed (earth) frame and the second (body frame) rotates and translates relative to the first.  In equation form:

(dr/dt)f =(dr/dt)r + ω X rr (Eqn. 1)

where the subscripts indicate the frame of reference.

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