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Keywords:

  • industry growth;
  • MEMS;
  • product offerings;
  • system integration

Abstract:  MEMS-based products produced in 2005 had a value of $8bn, 40% of which was sensors. The balance was for products that included micromachined features, such as ink jet print heads, catheters and RF IC chips with embedded inductors. Growth projections follow a hockey stick curve, with the value of products rising to $40bn in 2015 and $200bn in 2025! Growth to date has come from a combination of technology displacement, as exemplified by automotive pressure sensors and airbag accelerometers and new products, such as miniaturised guidance systems for military applications and wireless tire pressure sensors. Much of the growth in MEMS business is expected to come from products that are in the early stages of development or yet to be invented. Some of these devices include disposable chips for performing assays on blood and tissue samples, which are now performed in hospital laboratories, integrated optical switching and processing chips, and various RF communication and remote sensing products.The key to enabling the projected 25-fold growth in MEMS products is development of appropriate technologies for integrating multiple devices with electronics on a single chip. At present, there are two approaches to integrating MEMS devices with electronics. Either the MEMS device is fabricated in polysilicon, as part of the CMOS wafer fabrication sequence or a discrete MEMS device is packaged with a separate ASIC chip. Neither of these approaches is entirely satisfactory, though, for building the high-value, system-on-chip products that are envisioned. It is this author's opinion that a combination of self-assembly techniques in conjunction with wafer stacking, offer a viable path to realizing ubiquitous, complex MEMS systems.