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MEMS technology pushes ST to the top

Posted: 21 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS  consumer devices  collision sensors 

MEMS technology is transforming the world of portable and consumer electronics. And according to iSuppli Corp., STMicroelectronics ranked No. 1 in revenues. The market research firm reports that ST's sales of MEMS devices for portable and consumer devices surged from Rs.480.35 crore ($96 million) in 2007 to more than Rs.1,045.76 crore ($209 million) in 2008, a growth of 118 per cent.

"This is a dramatic confirmation of our vision a few years ago when we decided to commit resources to developing a new type of MEMS technology, one that could enable the creation of innovative and exciting consumer applications," said Benedetto Vigna, group VP and general manager of MEMS and healthcare, RF and sensor product division at ST.

Prior to 2006, MEMS sensors were used in a few applications, such as collision sensors, but they were too bulky, power-hungry and expensive to be used in consumer applications, Vigna noted.

ST addressed the first two problems by innovative engineering, developing and patenting new MEMS structures that were smaller, more robust and required less electrical power to operate, while still delivering very high performance.

To solve the third problem, the company invested over Rs.200.15 crore ($40 million) to set up the world's most advanced MEMS production line. The 200mm (8-inch) wafer processing facility in Agrate was inaugurated in November 2006 and is fully dedicated to producing MEMS devices such as accelerometers, gyroscopes and pressure sensors.

"Because semiconductor devices are processed in parallel on circular wafers of silicon, a 50 per cent increase in the wafer diameter more than doubles the number of chips that can be manufactured at the same time and also significantly reduces the cost per device," said Vigna.

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