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MEMS surge: Defence sector lifts IMU, gyro space

Posted: 18 Feb 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Yole Developpement  MEMS  defence  inertial measurement unit  gyroscope 

The latest report from Yole Developpement has revealed that the last couple of years witnessed the industry of high-performance gyroscopes and inertial measurement units (IMUs) being swept by a wave of change. In particular, the market research company focused on high-end inertial applications of the devices, including defence, commercial aerospace and industrial, as well as the transformations that have taken place.

"At Yole, we expect more dynamic growth near term in this global market because of two factors," said Claire Troadec, technology & market analyst, MEMS manufacturing from Yole. "First, while in the defence and aerospace sectors the US and European markets are best described as conservative and mature, many new programs are being launched in China, Russia, Brazil and the Middle East. These will provide a high level of demand. Second, low-cost emerging MEMS are fuelling growth of the IMU market and opening doors for many new applications. The 2014 market for high-performance gyroscopes, which was estimated at $1.37B, is therefore expected to grow at a 4.4 per cent annual rate to reach $1.69B in 2019."

2014 High performance gyroscopes, accelerometers and IMU market value

Meanwhile, the MEMS accelerometer market is growing thanks to cost and size reduction, while other technologies are in decline. In-house accelerometer production is a trend followed by more players in this area, such as iXBlue and UTC Aerospace/AIS Goodrich, enabling better integration and performance. Furthermore, consolidation and cooperation in this industry is continuing.

For example, recently, TowerJazz and Physical Logic announced production of high performance MEMS-based accelerometers for inertial navigation applications. High-end accelerometer process flow is challenging and sets extreme manufacturing demands for high aspect ratio Si etch, stress control, high accuracy double side alignment and interface to package, said both partners.

TowerJazz's 0.18µm MEMS modular process and MEMS controller were used for Physical Logics accelerometer and ASIC devices respectively, in order to achieve the superior specifications required for sensitivity, stability, small form factor and low power consumption.

In addition, many newcomers are looking to enter the market with low-cost MEMS-based products and different approaches, noted Guillaume Girardin, technology & market analyst, MEMS & sensors from Yole. New players such as Innalabs, Sensonor or Tronics Microsystems, could play a major role in the coming years. If further proof was needed; Thales bought 50 per cent of the shares available in Tronics Microsystems IPO few days ago, betting it will disrupt the market with new applications in the near future, he added.

Many factors are shaping tomorrow's competitive landscape including technology capabilities, product maturity level, geography and the composition of the value chain, added Yole.

- Julien Happich
  EE Times Europe





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