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Non-mainstream packaging in MEMS, LED and power electronics


Source: Yole, France.

Source: Yole, France.

The number of MEMS and sensors going into mobile, consumer and gaming applications is expected to continue to skyrocket. As a result, OSAT and Wafer foundry players are getting more and more interest in MEMS module packaging, as volume and complexity of MEMS SiP modules is increasing dramatically, said Dr. Eric Mourier, Yole Developpement.

It implies that IDMs needs to find second source partnersand qualify some OSATs in order to secure their supply chain. Also, standardization(coming from both foundries, OSAT, WLP houses or substrate suppliers) is critical and necessary to implement in order to keep the packaging, assembly, and test cost of MEMS modules under control. There are many different players with different designs, and it’s not likely we’ll see one solution adopted by all the players.

As for wafer-level packaging (WLP) for LEDs, WLP has not been strongly deployed in the LED industry due to associated technical challenges. In the short-term, there is ESD integration in Si substrate. In the long-term, LED drivers could be integrated at the package level for Intelligent lighting. Ultimately, there are wafer-to-wafer manufacturing schemes for certain packaget types.

Real production of HB-LEDs with a mixed approach of WLP+through silicon vias (TSV) is just starting. There are some Taiwanese players such as TSMC, Xintec, Visera, Touch MicroTech and Sibdi, and South Korea-based LG Innotek. Additional players in the semiconductor and MEMS industry are seeking to enter the field.

Coto announces MEMS based magnetically operated switch


Stephen Day.

Stephen Day.

According to Stephen Day, VP of Technology, Coto Technology has the number 1 share in reed relays and relay products. The Coto brand is associated with the broadest portfolio, best in class quality, dedicated technical support, and a provider of innovative solutions. He was speaking at the ongoing 13th Globalpress Electronics Summit in Santa Cruz, USA.

Coto has announced the RedRock, a new MEMS based magnetically operated switch. The RS-A-2515 is the world’s smallest wafer level packaged magnetically operated reed switch. It consumes zero power, measures 2mm3 in footprint and switches at less than 0.3W. It delivers high reliability and surface mount package.

The small footprint means use of less PCB real estate, no operate power means a longer battery life. The low switching power leads to higher reliability. The high directionality leads to resistance to stray fields. Hot switchable feature leads to higher reliability.

Together, Coto has managed to combine the best of two worlds — traditional reed switches with MEMS processing. There is high aspect ratio microfabrication (HARM). This is the first commercially available switch. It produces structures that generate strong contact closure forces. The forces are many times greater than the previous MEMS based magnetic switches. It also enables hot switching up to several hundred milliwatts.

HARM is the key to making it all possible. The benefits are many, from temperature rise vs. carry current, to RedRock contact life test, 1V 1 mA hot-switched load. RedRock allows for small size, zero power consumption and high power switching.

At the moment, Coto is leveraging RedRock into high growth applications. In the future, Coto will integrate sensor solution as well. RedRock’s unique combination of features include reed — no power and high current, and MEMS — no power and small size, as well as GMR/Hall — small size and high current — to deliver the RedRock, which features no power, small size and high current.

Metal MEMS provides future of cell phone radio


Dennis Yost.

Dennis Yost.

Cavendish Kinetics is well known for its combined experience in MEMS, RF system design and CMOS design. Since 2008, it has focused on developing digital variable capacitors to improve wireless connectivity and data rates for mobile phones.

According to Dennis Yost, president & CEO, Cavendish Kinetics, 4G/LTE mobile devices are not yet achieving their potential. Antenna frequency tuning is an essential technology. Only metal MEMS technology has the size and performance. He was speaking at the ongoing Globalpress Electronics Summit 2013 in Santa Cruz, USA.

Cavendish claims to have the team, proven technology and real demonstrated performance. There is IP and patent protection for customers. Cavendish also owns the process.

The future of cell phone radio is needed in order to meet the performance gap. In future, you will see adaptive power amplifiers.

Antenna frequency tuning used in traditional RF applications. How do you ensure there is no loss in the component? Only MEMS has the performance and size for cell phones. Metal MEMS has almost no series resistance. No switches are required.

Previous designs required switches and different loads. Mechanical capacitors change capacitance value by moving plates – changing the area or plate distance changes the capacitance. MEMS capacitors do the same at the micrometer level.

Successful MEMS
Users can control design and manufacturing process of devices. How a MEMS is built is just as important as what you build. Success requires MEMS design expertise, MEMS process expertise and MEMS volume production expertise.

Cavendish has MEMS experts in all areas. It developed and owned MEMS manufacturing process. It uses all standard CMOS foundry technology. Innovations have so far yielded over 100 patents in manufacturing process and MEMS design.

By using the NanoMech technology performance, Cavendish Kinectics has demonstrated excellent performance in a small chip.

Critical success factors for MEMS commercialization


MEMS

MEMS

MEMS still has a long way to go to meet the challenges of commercialization! Critical success factors include efficient process transfer from breadboard to production. There is a need to pay attention to customers’ needs. More resources need to be adopted from the semiconductor industry, said Roger Grace, president, Roger Grace Associates.

There is a need to create significant awareness as to the unique solution benefits of MEMS based systems and establish defensible product differentiation. Firms need to better understand customer/market needs.

Emerging opportunities include single MEMS based system solutions, especially in analytical instruments, double magnetic MEMS, triple point-of-care bio, energy harvesting/storage, etc. There are barriers to commercialization of MEMS. Until recently, it is plagued by lack of high-volume apps. There is lack of well-defined direction from roadmaps, industry standards and associations. Packaging and testing costs are typically at 70 percent of total value. There is also a lack of focus on customer needs and lack of capital formation opportunities, risk averse investors.

Besides, successive bubble busts, i.e., biomems, optical telecom, have seen wary investors. There are very fragmented markets, many small companies and few large players. Also, there are limited ‘success stories’ of MEMS/MST companies, eg., Invensense. There are new market opportunities for large volume apps, eg. in automotive, CE, etc.

Downturn hit research hard! R&D remains a novelty for most firms. Now, there is an increase in university and R&D labs for MEMS development. There is still plenty of R&D available from DARPA, SBIR and STTRs. Now, we are seeing a healthy amount of activity in new devices and systems research.

As for DfM (design for manufacturing), Invensense’s ‘shuttle’ process may finally become a usable standard. New approaches are also changing the paradigm of cost structure. Examples are Invensense gyros, Freescale chip-stacking accelerometers, ST, etc.

While there seems to be strong MEMS infrastructure, there is some fraying at the ends. The industry needs to remain competitive and lean. As for profitability, while the margins don’t seem great for high volume MEMS devices, they are holding on somewhat. The general consensus of the VC community has been that MEMS has lot of growth potential, but it doesn’t have a good track record of producing profitable firms, as yet.

The lack of DfM emphasis and the absence of a coherent package and test capability is the lack of management insight. As for standards, the creation of the first Standardized Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions is a huge step in the right direction.

MEMS to be $21 billion market by 2017: Yole


MEMS update: Source: Yole

MEMS update: Source: Yole

The MEMS market is on a growing curve again, and many changes are happening on the technical side, business model side and supply chain side. MEMS will continue to see steady, sustainable double digit growth for the next six years: 13 per cent CAGR in revenues and 20 per cent CAGR in units. MEMS will grow to $21 billion market by 2017.

Every year brings new business to the MEMS landscape. Combo sensors are coming. The MEMS market is still very fragmented, with a number of high volume MEMS applications still limited today. However, a whole range of new MEMS devices has now reached the market and new ‘emerging MEMS’ devices are coming..

MEMS applicable to mobile devices (RF MEMS switches, oscillators, auto-focus) have the possibility to ramp up to large volumes quickly. Growth will also come from existing sensors that are expanding into new market spaces: e.g. pressure sensors for consumer.

Consumer/mobile applications are driving about 50 per cent of the total volume. Telecom and medical applications will grow faster with expected CAGR of ~20 per cent in the next five years. Industrial MEMS applications represent significant opportunities with grow of ~13 per cent likely.

MEMS in 2011
Four devices represented over 50 per cent of units shipped in 2011. Microphones, accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers represented more than 50 per cent of MEMS units shipped in 2011.

Accelerometer, gyroscope and electronic compass growth is coming from the detection of movement, which is reaching every applications, from mobile phones to pacemakers to smart munitions. Microphone has found a sweet spot in the mobile phone business, replacing the electric condenser type of microphones.

All these devices are about to be combined with other sensors and electronic functions/processing in order to add more value. Multi-microphone arrays with noise cancellation functionalities are now a new feature in smartphones. Accelerometers plus gyroscopes plus electronic compasses are being combined (in a SiP package, in the near future, in silicon SoC) to bring a higher level of functionality at even lower costs.

Invensense achieved the same MEMS size when moving from 2-axis to 3-axis gyros (ITG-3200). As for MEMS accelerometer roadmap, new packaging concepts (such as metal-to-metal wafer bonding, WLP/TSV technologies) are driving the ‘Moore law’ of the MEMS technology roadmap.

In an example of STM accelerometer using TSV technology, by removing the area reserved for I/O pads, the TSV process allows the MEMS die area to be shrinked by 25 per cent compared to the standard accelerometer. However, TSV adds major manufacturing changes that increase the final wafer cost by about $90. The wafer extra cost cumulated with a shrinked MEMS die, makes the final die cost still competitive.

In the 2011 MEMS ranking of the top 30 players, TI, STMicro, HP and Bosch are the ‘big 4′ players with annual revenues of > $700 million. The top 30 accounts for ~80 per cent of total MEMS market. More than 25 players generate annual revenues from $50 million to $300 million.

As for 2011 MEMS foundry rankings, some MEMS IDMs have been successful in developing a MEMS foundry business beyond internal needs. STMicro is by far the no. 1 with key customers such as HP (related to ink-jet MEMS manufacturing). Sony has Knowles’ silicon microphone wafer manufacturing business.

Pure play MEMS foundries include Silex (SW), DALSA (CA), apm (TW), IMT (US), tMt (TW) and DNP (JP). CMOS wafer foundries are entering the MEMS manufacturing space with TSMC (TW), umc (TW), Globalfoundries (SG), SMIC (CH), X-Fab (GE) and Semefab (UK).

The 2011 MEMS foundry services accounted for ~6 per cent of the total MEMS market ($623 million). In 2010, the ratio was similar. Now, there are more and more fabless companies in the MEMS space! There are over 70 fabless MEMS companies.
Read more…

Integrating next-gen technology into nano/MEMS facilities


CH2M HLL on nanomanufacturing.

CH2M HLL on nanomanufacturing.

CH2M HLL is a global leader in consulting, design, design-build, operations, and program management. Its ultimate goal is to link nanotechnologies to high-tech manufacturing.

Nanomanufacturing techniques for scale include photo-lithography techniques, e-beam lithography techniques, ion-beam lithography techniques, nano-imprint lithography, nanofabrication by self-assembly and laser technology processes.

There are three major challenges for cost-effective nanomanufacturing — flexibility, critical environment scale-up and safety, sustainability and health (SSH). Also, nanomanufacturing requires high flexibility. Nanofacility critical environments include electromagnetic interference, cleanliness, vibration, temperature and humidity control, adaptive HVAC zones, airborne molecular contamination (AMC) and acoustics.

There are nano facility site planning challenges such as surface transit, direct current light rail, high voltage lines and truck and bus traffic. There is a need to analyse the detailed ambient conditions study and subsurface vibration testing, which is 3-4 meters below grade. Solutions include ‘no-build zones for vibration, EMI and RFI, building outside zones, identify ‘sweet spot’, VC-E lower/first level, and remediation by mass such as slab size lower level and slab size first level.

The proposed model for CH2M HLL’s China nanomanufacturing includes top level R&D labs, stacked cleanrooms for pilot and manufacturing, nano/MEMS/NEMS, ISO 5 and 7 cleanrooms, VC-D and VC-C vibration criteria, E-beam metrology, TEM suite capability and remote bulk gas pad. The proposed China baseline is in Suzhou, China.

Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, CH2M HLL has nearly 30,000 employees. Broadly diversified across multiple business sectors, it had $6.4 billion in revenue (2011).

MEMS Executive Congress 2011 round-up


Presenting the round-up or closing remarks from Ms. Karen Lightman, MD, MEMS Industry Group, at the recently held MEMS Executive Congress 2011 on Nov. 2-3, in Monterey, USA.

Market analyst panel
* Intelligence added to location will dictate consumer experiences on mobile, (Forrester).
* MEMS market growth at 10 percent in 2011. Nearly $12 billion market by 2015, says IHS iSuppli. Yole predicts $20 billion by 2015.
* Consumer MEMS growing at much faster pace, at 20 percent year-over-year – but look out for price erosion (iSuppli)!
* Be more like semiconductor manufacturing. Leverage standard processes and tools to get to volume production. Reduces cost and TTM (Semico).

Accelerating innovation through systems engineering best practices
* We are ushering in a “new wave” of innovation fueled by “building blocks” of the connected world.
* Software is the Iifeblood of today’s innovation and is changing design paradigm within many markets.
* Connect multiple products and services into a “system of systems” to deliver unique value.
* Leverage systems engineering and develop core competency in software delivery. Speeds time-to-market and enables differentiated products.
* IBM Rational implemented “system of systems” with GM to produce new drive system for Chevy Volt in just 29 months!

Panel on MEMS foundry models – in-house, fab-lite, fabless
* Time-to-market (TTM) is a key challenge. It’s still 2x slower than in the semiconductor business.
* MEMS is coming to attention of global semiconductor industry, which can address high- and low-volume apps. Barriers to entry are lower than ever.
* A difference of opinion: Reusing tools from CMOS fabs can lower costs for IDMs and large IC foundries. Pure-play foundries compete via engineering know-how and “ecosystem” approach.
* There will be more fabless companies in top 30 MEMS companies within next few years.
* “Remember that products pay the bills, not technology.” Read more…

MEMS market overview: IHS iSuppli

November 14, 2011 2 comments

The  MEMS Executive Congress, MEMS Industry Group’s annual executive conference, was held on Nov. 2-3, 2011, in Monterey, USA. Here are the excerpts from a presentation on the MEMS market overview by Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, MEMS & Sensors, IHS iSuppli. Thanks are also due to Maria Vetrano for providing me with this opportunity.

Source iSuppli MEMS Market Tracker – Q2 2011.

Source iSuppli MEMS Market Tracker – Q2 2011.

The market for MEMS has been growing, and is slated to grow at a CAGR of +10.5 percent from 2010-2015. Consumer and mobile MEMS market is slated to grow 22 percent CAGR from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $4.4 billion in 2015.

Smart phones remain the locomotive. MEMS content has increased in smart phones. The Accelero has migrated to feature phones. There will be limited opportunity in the gray handset market. Tablets are providing an additional market boost. There will likely be 275 million media tablets in 2015. The ‘full PC tablets’ in consumer laptops segment will also be impacted positively. Dangerous games — they peaked in 2010, will be down in 2011-2012, and go up again in 2014.

New MEMS devices in 2011 include MEMS thermopiles in handsets (TI), MEMS joysticks (Knowles) and RF MEMS switch/varactors. There will be new opportunities in sport/reha. However, IHS iSuppli not too excited about motion sensors for remote controllers and MEMS speaker — there will be no revenue by 2015.

Hottest of the hottest include motion sensors in handsets and tablets. There are likely to be a few more fat years’ for consumer MEMS. The fat years include the period from 2010-2013, which translates into robust smart phones sales and skyrocketing media tablets shipment.

The automotive MEMS market will grow at 8.5 percent CAGR from $1.90 billion in 2010 to $2.86 billion in 2015. Safety applications dominate, often with mandates. Examples are: ESC with (MEMS gyro, accelerometer, pressure sensors), airbags (accelerometer, pressure, ultrasound), and TPMS mandate in US since 2007, EU from 2012 and now China (from 2015).

Japan caused 2.2 million production drop globally, in 2011. Car production forecast has also been revised down in for 2012. China is driving sensor sales, e.g., basic MAP to lower emissions. Combo sensors are accelerating price erosion (7-8 percent, instead of 4 percent). Newcomers are finally breaking into safety sensor markets. Some examples are SensorDynamics for gyro, MEMSIC accelerometer in airbag-based ESC systems from Autoliv. Also, ST and Epson are gunning for safety applications. Read more…

MEMS devices driving healthcare apps!

November 11, 2011 2 comments

Frédéric Breussin, Yole Developpement, an expert in microfluidics for diagnostics and life sciences, recently presented on MEMS devices driving healthcare applications.

Source: Yole Developpement, France.

Source: Yole Developpement, France.

According to him, microsystem technologies are changing the healthcare industry. New in-vitro diagnostic systems, new therapy strategies, genetic disease treatment, targeted and intelligent drug delivery, artificial pancreas, drug discovery processes are healthcare improvements promised to future generations.

Microsystem devices, including MEMS devices, SI based sensors, Microfluidic chips and Bio sensors find many applications in healthcare markets:
* Pharmaceutical research market ($870 billion worldwide 2010),
* In-vitro diagnostics ($57 billion worldwide 2010),
* Medical devices ($255 billion worldwide 2010), and
* Medical home care ($54 billion worldwide 2010).

Within these applications, the MEMS/microsystem technologies market for healthcare will grow from $1.4 billion in 2010 to $4.5 billion in 2015, which represents over 1 billion units per year in 2015. The largest markets are microfluidic devices and bio-sensors for diagnostic and pharmaceutical applications. However, one should keep in mind that the unit price is relatively high, and that the microfluidic market is very segmented in terms of “biological” applications and players. Read more…

Emerging piezoMEMS apps and ion beam etch solutions for next gen MEMS and sensors

October 11, 2011 2 comments

Yole Developpement of France recently organized a seminar on next generation MEMS. The speakers were Dr. Eric Mounier, project manager, Yole Développement, and Dr. Adrian Devasahayam, senior director, Technology, Veeco Instruments.

As performance requirements for MEMS and other devices become more stringent, the industry is encountering etch challenges that cannot be overcome with existing toolsets. The use of materials that are not readily etched reactively, combined with higher sensitivities to post etch corrosion in smaller devices, is driving a search for a more suitable etch solution for certain applications.

MEMS ferroelectric thin films: Source: Yole.

MEMS ferroelectric thin films: Source: Yole.

According to Dr. Mounier, Yole, it is estimated that until 2015, the ferroelectric thin film business will grow at rate of +7.5 percent per year with many current or new applications. In the MEMS field, these applications could be wafer level autofocus, IR sensors, RF switches, medical ultrasonic transducers. In other markets, applications would include IPD tunable capacitor, IPD hearing aids, FeRAM, optical switches, etc.

Dr. Mounier added that the ferroelectric thin films global market growth is mainly driven by two high growth rate MEMS applications until 2015, namely, IR sensors and wafer level optic autofocus.  He added that many other applications are expected to emerge in 2014-2015. These would include RFMEMS and ultrasonic thin film technologies that are under development by large groups, such as IBM, Philips, Toshiba, etc. IPD high density planar capacitors with thin films are being evaluated all over the world by key companies, such as STMicroelectronics, Ipdia, On Semi, Maxim, etc.

Magnetometers using MEMS technologies are currently under development, such as at Bosch, VTT, etc.. They are likely to be integrated with accelerometers to create inertial sensing modules (combo sensors) for consumer/auto applications. Read more…

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