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MEMS to lead component revolution

Posted: 16 Apr 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS  semiconductor  sensor  MEMS sector 

Eisenhut said that he sees more standardisation in the applications but not the devices, and added that one of the reasons that the industry has grown as rapidly as it has in the last couple of years is that there is some commonality in use of the standard semiconductor processing tools.

"The equipment set is common and mostly we are looking at standard packaging. Kionics has chosen to have in-house manufacturing and this is why we have been able to compete with much bigger companies for the tier one consumer electronics market. Over time this might change." Martin agreed in that standardisation will involve interfacing and protocols. "As an industry we need to take advantage of these but we are better not to constrain the industry but provide differentiation that will enable applications."

So can foundries be as successful in the MEMS sector as in general semiconductors? Maxim's Ullal said: "You really need volumes if you want to do a foundry model. The volumes aren't there for MEMS devices and there are too many variations for the foundry model. I am sure in the next ten years there will be at least one or two versions of inertial sensors that will be done in a foundry but right now if you want the fastest turns, you have to do it yourself. You end up teaching the foundry how to do what they claim they already know."

What comes after MEMS? "The interesting application for nanotechnology will be really minute sensors, said Ullal. "MEMS might be the really hot thing for the next five to seven years but in order for us to really get scaling, it's going to have to be with nanotechnology and that could be ten years out. What you see in the labs with self-assembling structures in 10 to 15 years you will see in really miniature sensors running on virtually no power at all."

"If you are not in mechanical structures now, you will miss that nanostructures of the future as you have to understand who the customers are, what the applications are and how to create this industry," concluded Ullal.

- Colin Holland
EE Times Europe

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