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Got MEMS? Get In Touch With memsstar For Production Equipment

Friday, July 17th, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

As you might guess from the company’s name, memsstar is involved in microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices. The company offers manufacturing equipment for “MEMS-specific production,” says CEO Tony McKie.

Based in Livingston, Scotland, memsstar wants to help in making “MEMS on top of silicon,” he adds.

“There are no such things as standard MEMS,” McKie notes. “MEMS are becoming more complicated.”

While most people are familiar with the MEMS devices in smartphones, like accelerometers and pressure sensors, the Internet of Things will call for different kinds of MEMS and other products, according to McKie. “You need hardware to do that,” he says of IoT. “The rest is filled by software.”

McKie estimates the worldwide market for MEMS production equipment is currently worth about $10 million to $15 million a year. “It’s a growing market,” he says. IoT and other new technologies call for “more and more things that are not CMOS-related,” he adds. Producing new types of MEMS will likely see the startup of more 200-millimeter wafer fabrication facilities, according to McKie.

The primary competitor of memsstar is the SPTS Technologies subsidiary of Orbotech, McKie says.

The company is also involved in refurbishing and remanufacturing deposition and etch equipment from such vendors as Applied Materials, Lam Research, and Novellus Systems (now part of Lam), while providing spare parts for those systems.

Founded in 2003 as Point 35 Microstructures, memsstar received an investment from Albion Ventures in 2007, and has since been a self-funded company, McKie says.

Solid State Watch: June 5-11, 2015

Thursday, June 11th, 2015
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Solid State Watch: April 24-30, 2015

Monday, May 4th, 2015
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Solid State Watch: April 10-16, 2015

Friday, April 17th, 2015
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Solid State Watch: April 3-9, 2015

Friday, April 10th, 2015
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Solid State Watch: March 20-26, 2015

Thursday, March 26th, 2015
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Solid State Watch: March 13-19, 2015

Friday, March 20th, 2015
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Blog review January 26, 2015

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Scott McGregor, President and CEO of Broadcom, sees some major changes for the semiconductor industry moving forward, brought about by rising design and manufacturing costs. Speaking at the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) in January, McGregor said the cost per transistor was rising after the 28nm, which he described as “one of the most significant challenges we as an industry have faced.” Pete Singer reports.

Matthew Hogan, Mentor Graphics writes a tongue-in-cheek blog about IP, saying chip designers need only to merely insert the IP into the IC design and make the necessary connections. Easy-peasey! Except…robust design requires more than verifying each separate block—you must also verify that the overall design is robust. When you are using hundreds of IPs sourced from multiple suppliers in a layout, how do you ensure that the integration of all those IPs is robust and accurate?

Dick James, Senior Analyst at Chipworks IEDM blogs that Monday was FinFET Day. He highlights three finFET papers, by TSMC, Intel, and IBM.

A research team led by folks at Cornell University (along with University of California, Berkeley; Tsinghua University; and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) have discovered how to make a single-phase multiferroic switch out of bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3) as shown in an online letter to Nature. Ed Korczynski reports.

SEMI praised the bipartisan effort in the United States Congress to pass the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act as part of the year-end spending package. Since its introduction in August 2013, SEMI has been a champion and leading voice in support of the bill that would create public private partnerships to establish institutes for manufacturing innovation.

Phil Garrou takes a look at some of the key presentations at the 2014 IEEE 3DIC Conference recently held in Cork, Ireland.

Adele Hars writes that there were about 40 SOI-based papers presented at IEDM. In Part 1 of ASN’s IEDM coverage, she provides a rundown of the top SOI-based advanced CMOS papers.

Karen Lightman of the MEMS Industry Group says power is the HOLY GRAIL to both the future success of wearables and IoT/Everything.  Power reduction and management through sensor fusion, power generation through energy harvesting as well as basic battery longevity. It became very clear from conversations at the MIG conference as well as in talking with folks on the CES show floor that the issue of power is the biggest challenge and opportunity facing us now.

In order to keep pace with Moore’s Law, semiconductor market leaders have had to adopt increasingly challenging technology roadmaps, which are leading to new demands on electronic materials (EM) product quality for leading-edge chip manufacturing. Dr. Atul Athalye, Head of Technology, Linde Electronics, discusses the challenges.

IEDM: Thanks for MEMS-ories

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

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By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

At the 60th annual International Electron Devices Meeting this week in San Francisco, there was much buzz about the 14-nanometer FinFET papers being presented by IBM and Intel. Those papers were the subject of a press release two months in advance.

Getting less attention at IEDM 2014 were the papers on sensors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices and bio-MEMS. This technology generates fewer headlines, although it is present in smartphones, fitness trackers, and many other electronic products.

Monday afternoon, December 15, saw the first MEMS-related papers presented at the conference, on nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and energy harvesters. Donald Gardner of Intel, an IEEE Fellow, presented a paper on “Integrated On-Chip Energy Storage Using Porous-Silicon Electrochemical Capacitors,” which was supported by research at Florida International University and the University of Turku.

Gardner described how porous-silicon nanostructures were synthesized and passivated with titanium nitride through atomic-level deposition or with carbon through chemical vapor deposition. These coatings helped keep the porous silicon from oxidizing, he explained.

These electrochemical capacitors, an alternative to batteries, produced with the porous silicon could be used in energy harvesting and some applications in energy storage, according to the authors of the paper.

Session 8 of the IEDM conference also included a paper authored by France’s Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (IEMN) and STMicroelectronics, “Fabrication of Integrated Micrometer Platform for Thermoelectric Measurements.” Maciej Haras presented the paper. He noted that 55 percent to 60 percent of energy used is released as waste heat. Harvesting energy from such heat could be a significant source of power generation in the future.

“Thermoelectricity is quite unpopular on the market,” Haras noted. Toxic materials, such as antimony, bismuth, lead, and tellurium, could be replaced by silicon, germanium or silicon germanium (SiGe) could to produce CMOS-compatible thermoelectrics, he said.

In energy conversion efficiency, silicon that is only 10 nanometers thick is 10 times more efficient than bulk silicon, Haras said.

Session 15 on Tuesday morning, December 16, was devoted to “Graphene Devices, Biosensors and Photonics.” This session featured some of the longest paper titles at the conference, such as “An Ultra-Sensitive Resistive Pressure Sensor Based on the V-Shaped Foam-like Structure of Laser-Scribed Graphene,” “A Semiconductor Bio-electrical Platform with Addressable Thermal Control for Accelerated Bioassay Development,” and “Label-Free Optical Biochemical Sensor Realized by a Novel Low-Cost Bulk-Silicon-based CMOS Compatible 3-Dimensional Optoelectronic IC (OEIC) Platform.”

Other papers were more direct, with shorter titles, such as “Flexible, Transparent Single-Layer Graphene Earphone,” which was about exactly that, and “An Integrated Tunable Laser Using Nano-Silicon-Photonic Circuits.”

Coming up on Tuesday afternoon is Session 22, devoted to MEMS and resonator technology, with six papers scheduled.

The nuts and bolts of MEMS and NEMS technology can be quite esoteric, yet such devices are crucial to the future of electronics.

Solid State Watch: November 14-20, 2014

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
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