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Skin inspired electronics for mobile health


Prof. Zhenan Bao

Prof. Zhenan Bao

Skin inspired electronics can be used for mobile health such as wireless sensor bands, cell phone and computer at doctor’s office, according to Prof. Zhenan Bao, Stanford University. She was delivering the inaugural lecture on day two of the ongoing 13th Global Electronics Summit in Santa Cruz, USA.

There are organic field-effect transistors (OTFTs). The current flow is moderated by binding of molecules and pressure. E-skin sensor functions have touch (pressure) sensors, chemical sensors and biological sensors. There are other flexible pressure sensors such as conductive rubber, which is thick and has hysteresis. Another type is poly-vinylidene fluoride (PVDF) thin film. Yet another type is the OTFT touch (pressure) sensor.

There is an example of the heart pulse measurement. Another related device is the full pulse wave for medical diagnostics such as blood pressure monitoring, detecting arrhythmia, heart defects and vascular diseases. In terms of temperature sensing, Stanford has developed a flexible body temperature sensor made of plastic.

There is chemical sensing as well. These are very stable and can be put in sea water. There are also electronics to mimic the body, such as the biodegradable OTFT. Another example is the transparent, stretchable pressure sensor. Finally, the other attribute of the human skin is self healing. Stanford University also developed the all-self-healing e-skin.

The e-skin concept ‘Super Skin’ has touch pressure sensors, chemical or biological sensors in air – electronic nose and liquid environments – electronic tongue, flexible strechable materials, biocompatible or biodegradable, self-powered — strechable solar cells and self healing.

Nanometer an enabling technology


Prof. Yi Cui

Prof. Yi Cui

According to Prof. Yi Cui, Dept. of Materials, Science & Engineering, Stanford University, nanometer is an enabling technology. We can do applications such as electronics, energy, environment and health. Some examples are high energy batteries, printed energy storage devices on paper, textile and sponge, etc. He was delivering the inaugural address at the Globalpress Electronics Summit 2013, being held in Santa Cruz, USA.

High energy battery has portable and stationary applications. In portable, energy density, cost and safety are important. In stationary, cost, power, energy efficiency and ultra-long life are important. The standard is 500 cycles at 80 percent. One of the challenges of silicon anodes is that Si has 4200 mAh/g of silicon, 10 times more than carbon.

Nanowires can offer shorter distance for Li diffusion (high power), good strain release and interface control (for better cycle life), and continuous electron transport pathway (high power). In-situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Double walled hollow structure provides stable solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). The outer surface is static. Amprius, where Prof. Cui is CTO,  is a $6 million US government funded enterprise. Amprius China started in Nanjing, in April 2012.

Another example is printed energy storage devices on paper, textile and sponge. For low-cost scaffold, paper, textile and sponge, are used. There is cellulose paper and synthetic textile, besides sponge, as well.

There can be transparent batteries. It is actually very hard to develop those. The challenges for making a transparent battery are Al film, cathode, electrolyte, etc. An idea: dimension smaller than eye’s detection limit (50-100 um). Also, grids are well aligned.

Transparent conducting electrodes provide electrical and allow light to pass through. Apps include solar cells, etc. Indium tin oxide (ITO) has a low abundance of indium, brittleness when bent, and sputtering at high cost. Electrospinning of nanofibers is done for transparent electrodes. An example is the trough-shaped nanowires.

Yet another example is the water nanofilters for killing pathogens. The processes available for killing bacteria include chemical disinfection, UV disinfection, boiling, etc.

The first generation product is currently ready at Amprius. Amprius licensed the IP from Stanford. Stanford is also an investor in Amprius.

What should India do to boost semiconductors?

February 4, 2013 11 comments

I’ve already written a lot on the Indian semiconductor industry. Now, there’s nothing new to say. Even then, I am literally coaxed to say what I think the Indian semiconductor industry should do! As though the industry will listen to a nobody like me! 🙂

First, the industry should stop wasting time running here and there, and focus on getting the job done! Semiconductors isn’t a new area, and has been in existence even before the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) came into being in 2005.

There have been talks (ongoing since about 2006) about building fabs in India. Well, where are they? Back in 2010, I wrote a post titled Indian industry proposes to extend deadline of India’s semicon policy up to March 2015! One sincerely hopes that has actually happened!

India could consider building 150/180/200mm fabs that tackle local problems via indigenous applications. And, there are scores of local issues that need to be dealt with! I’ve said before, and am repeating myself at the sake of repetition — the semiconductor industry is NOT the IT industry, but it appears to being treated like one, especially in India!

Indian companies could consider developing firms in the assembly testing, verification and packaging (ATMP) space. Very little has happened so far and a lot more needs to be done. There could be some attempts to attract and invite companies in areas such as RFID to address local problems and develop local applications, unless India has given up on RFIDs.

I really have very little idea whether there is any interest in India to pursue global companies in PDP, OLED/LED space for setting up manufacturing units. Although, I can safely bet that if it is the Chinese companies that Indian firms are setting themselves up to take on, we would have a very long way to go!

India also needs to kindly forget about the ‘states race’! It has not helped anyone so far, nor will it help anyone in future!! In the end, we are all looking to develop India, aren’t we?

I didn’t even know that there is so much time required for setting up a pan-industry panel that will determine the top five products that are important for India! Seriously!! Anyone, who resides in India, should be able to tell you that the key sectors in India are automotive, consumer, industrial, medical and telecom. Agree that automotive and certain medical electronics areas can be expensive. Well, there are still three areas to pursue!

If anyone had simply bothered to send me an email or even call me, I’d have very happily told them about the top five product lines that are important for India and much more! 😉  There is a pressing need to develop a robust Indian semiconductor industry, led by local companies! Many would agree that all of this seems very easy to say, but difficult to manage! 😉

Will global semicon industry see growth in 2013?

February 2, 2013 14 comments

How will the global semiconductor industry perform in 2013? After a contrasting spell of predictions for 2012, I see no change in 2013! So, what’s the answer to the million-dollar question posed as my headline? 🙂

Global electronics industry.

Global electronics industry.

After a disappointing and challenging 2012, global semiconductor executives believe that the worst is nearly behind them, and they are making investments to position their companies for a sustained, broad-based, multi-year recovery in 2013, as per a KPMG global semiconductor survey.

On Feb. 3, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced that worldwide semiconductor sales for 2012 reached $291.6 billion, the industry’s third-highest yearly total, ever but a decrease of 2.7 percent from the record total of $299.5 billion set in 2011. Total sales for the year narrowly beat expectations from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization’s industry forecast.

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) estimated that the global semiconductor market in 2012 will be $290 billion, down 3.2 percent from 2011, followed by a recovery of positive 4.5 percent growth to $303 billion in 2013.

The worldwide semiconductor revenue is projected to total $311 billion in 2013, a 4.5 percent increase from 2012 revenue, according to Gartner Inc. The worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $298 billion in 2012, a 3 percent decline from 2011 revenue of $307 billion, according to preliminary results by Gartner.

The outlook for the global semiconductor industry in 2013 will likely be 7.9 percent, according to Future Horizons. It means, the industry will likely grow to $315.4 billion in 2013. The Cowan LRA foreasting model put out the following sales and year-on-year sales growth numbers for 2012 and 2013: $292.992 billion (-2.2 percent) and $309.244 billion (+5.5 percent), respectively.

Databeans expects 2013 will see a rebound, with the semiconductor industry growing by 7 percent from 2012 totals to reach $313.04 billion. IDC forecasted that the worldwide semiconductor revenues will grow 4.9 percent and reach $319 billion in 2013.

IHS iSuppli claimed that the semiconductor silicon revenue will close 2012 at $303 billion, down 2.3 percent from $310 billion in 2011. The projected decline comes in contrast to the 1.3 percent gain made last year.

IC Insights forecasted 6 percent IC unit growth for 2013 based on expectations of global GDP to rise to 3.2 percent. According to IC

Source: VLSI Research, USA.

Source: VLSI Research, USA.

Insights, in 2017, China is expected to represent 38 percent of the worldwide IC market, up from 23 percent, 10 years earlier in 2007. Does this mean the USA and Europe are loosing their sheen?

The global semiconductor industry may record only 1.5 percent growth In 2013, as per The Infornation Network. There is, however, the possibility for a snap-back in revenues for 2013, irrespective of macroeconomic factors, such as what occurred in 2010.

Over the next three years, industry analysts estimate the global industry will grow approximately 6 percent 2013-2016 CAGR, according to Somshubro Pal Choudhury, managing director, Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd.

Late 2012, I was speaking with Dr. Wally Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics. He said: “After almost no growth in 2012, most of the analysts are expecting improvement in semiconductor market growth in the coming year. Currently, the analyst forecasts for the semiconductor industry in 2013 range from 4.2 percent on the low side to 16.6 percent on the high side, with most firms coming in between 6 percent and 10 percent. The average of forecasts among the major semiconductor analyst firms is approximately 8.2 percent.”

WSTS also anticipates the world market to grow 5.2 percent to $319 billion in 2014, with healthy mid single digit growth across most of geographical regions and semiconductor product categories, supported by the healthier economy of the world.

Lastly, Forbes said that 2013 will be a turning point for the global semiconductor market.
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Global semicon sales to drop 1.7 percent in 2012?

October 10, 2012 Comments off

This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

According to the WSTS’s August (posted Oct. 9th, 2012 on its website) actual global semiconductor sales of $23.013 billion, the updated monthly forecast expectation for full year 2012’s total global semiconductor sales is expected to be $294.6 billion as calculated by the Cowan LRA forecasting model.

This latest update to the 2012 sales forecast estimate corresponds to a year-over-year sales growth expectation of minus 1.7 percent, which dropped from the previous month’s year-over-year sales growth forecast estimate of minus 0.5 percent.

It is also lower than the joint WSTS/SIA Spring 2012 sales growth forecast (published in June of this year) of plus 0.45 percent which corresponds to a global sales forecast estimate of $300.9 billion. Therefore, the model’s latest monthly sales forecast output (based on the just announced August 2012’s actual sales) continues to project even more negative sales growth for 2012 compared to 2011 and has remained negative for the third month in a row.

The model’s previous month’s forecast expectation for August’s actual sales was $24.8 billion as shown in the first table. This forecasted sales number generated last month was much higher than the just published actual August sales of $23.013 billion (larger by $1.76 billion or down 7.1 percent). This results in an M.I. (Momentum Indicator) of minus 7.1 implying that the sales growth trend will be ‘marginally’ down (that is, more negative) over the near term forecast horizon.

Incorporating August’s just published actual sales number into the Cowan LRA forecasting model also produces the latest updated sales and sales growth forecast expectations for the remaining two quarters of 2012 as well as for the four quarters of 2013.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Table 1: Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

These results are summarized in the first table. Also provided in the table are the corresponding previous month’s sales and sales growth forecast numbers which were determined last month thereby providing sequential monthly forecast estimate comparisons.

As displayed in the Table 1, the latest projected full year 2012 global semi sales forecast estimate decreased to $294.6 billion from last month’s sales forecast expectation of $298.0 billion, a decrease of $3.5 billion or down sequentially by 1.2 percent. Correspondingly, the updated 2012 sales growth forecast expectation declined to minus 1.7 percent from last month’s sales growth forecast estimate of minus 0.5 percent, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points, still remaining in the negative territory; however, more negative than last month.

Also, next month’s September actual sales forecast estimate is projected to come in at $29.8 billion. Consequently, the resulting September’s actual sales forecast estimate equates to a September 3MMA sales expectation of $25.5 billion which is up from August’s 3MMA sales result of $24.3 billion. It should be emphasized that this forecasted September 3MMA sales number assumes no (or very minimal) sales revisions to either July or August’s actual sales numbers just published by the WSTS.

Additionally, year-to-date cumulative sales for 2012 (total yearly sales through August) came in at $189.5 billion compared to last year’s year-to-date cumulative sales number of $198.5 billion. This equates to a 2012 year-to-date (through August) sales growth result of minus 4.6 percent. This implies that global semiconductor sales for the second half of 2012 must exhibit  significant strength to reach last year’s sales number of $299.52 billion in order that the full year’s 2012 sales growth will break even with last year’s sales, let alone show a mildly positive sales growth for the year.
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Global semicon sales worth $299.5 billion in 2011!

February 6, 2012 2 comments

Source: Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), USA.

Source: The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), USA.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced that the worldwide semiconductor sales for 2011 reached a record $299.5 billion, a year-on-year increase of 0.4 percent from the $298.3 billion recorded in 2010. While this is a very small increase over 2010, the SIA has said this is a record! Perhaps, it is, as the $300 billion mark is about to be breached!!

The SIA, in its release, has talked about the challenges that the global industry has had to face in 2011, notably, the tsunami in Japan, and the floods in Thailand. That the global semiconductor industry has still managed to reach nearly $300 billion is a feat in itself! And, as usual, Asia does continue to play a relatively large role.

According to the SIA, the optoelectronic, sensor and actuator, and microprocessor markets have showed solid year over year growth.  In fact, sensors and actuators are said to have showed the highest year over year growth at 15.5 percent to $8 billion in 2011. Likewise, MOS microprocessors have also shown commendable growth.

So, what does 2012 hold for the global semiconductor industry?

Last November, IC Insights had said that although low single-digit growth is forecast for the total semiconductor market in 2011, several companies are likely to register results that are quite different. There have already been some forecasts since then.  IHS iSuppli has said that the semiconductor industry revenue is likely to reach $323.2 billion in 2012.  As of now,  the global semiconductor sales has been forecast at $329.4 billion for 2012 by Mike Cowan, while the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) has a figure of $313 billion for 2012. Keep your eyes wide open!

My blog’s been nominated by Electronics Weekly!

October 31, 2008 Comments off

It was indeed a pleasant surprise to receive an email from Electronics Weekly, yesterday evening, informing me that my blog was recently shortlisted/nominated in the 2008 ElectronicsWeekly.com Blog Awards by a reader of ElectronicsWeekly.com!

All of the nominated blogs have apparently been considered by the panel of judges at ElectronicsWeekly.com. The email said, “I am delighted to inform you that you have made the shortlist in the Best Electronics Hardware Blog category.”

The list can be seen on Electronics Weekly’s (www.electronicsweekly.com) website!

Wow! I must add that here that there are such great blogs and bloggers in that list that I went dizzy for a few minutes!

I never expected my blog to reach this kind of appeal or level! Nor do I think I have that kind of traffic, as this blog has more to do with serious stuff, rather than talk about gadgets, etc. In fact, somebody once told me last year that no one would bother about a blog on semicon and electronics, nor would I get any traffic!

Well, all of this has never bothered me. I’m here to blog about what I feel is close to my heart! If folks happen to stop by, I am extremely grateful to all of them!

Irrespective of whether I win this award, it is just the right time to thank all of you, dear readers of my blog! Thanks to all of you for choosing to stop by my blog occasionally! I sincerely hope you find the content interesting and appealing enough.

There’s lots happening in the semiconductor, electronics and telecom industries, and hope that I am able to add my views on all of those in the coming months.

Thanks again, my dear readers. Please keep those suggestions coming. I will try to live up to your expectations. Have a great Halloween, everyone!

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