Editor's Blog

Editor's Blog

MEMS on SOI – Growing Fast and Faster

Posted by on April 6, 2011
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In the latest ASN posting by Dr. Eric Mounier of Yole Developpement, “SOI for MEMS: A Promising Material”, he notes that SOI MEMS is growing at a CAGR (2011-2015) of 15.6%, compared to 8.1% for bulk silicon-based solutions.

MEMS designers are doing amazing things on SOI – which would explain that impressive growth rate.

The first application of the tiny SOI-MEMS Nanopump™ will be for treating diabetes. (Courtesy: Debiotech)

One of my favorites is Debiotech’s tiny insulin NanopumpTM targeting diabetes, fabbed by ST.  As Debiotech’s Laurent-Dominique Piveteau noted, “…the use of SOI wafers for fabricating the Nanopump MEMS device has significant medical and economic advantages.  The SOI-based structure allows for the highest reliability in the smallest possible package, enabling very tight control and precision of the pumping mechanism. The flow rate is steady, and it is insensitive to pressure, temperature, viscosity and aging. It also offers extreme dosing precision.”

Reasons cited by other contributors for using SOI  for MEMS include:

  • Eliminating the stress problems common in polysilicon;
  • Ensuring well-defined film thickness for more accurate oscillation frequency of moving parts;
  • Providing greater surface and sidewall smoothness;
  • Enabling thinner structures;
  • Increasing thermal conductivity of MEMS components.

But the bottom line is that it’s the most cost-effective solution for their state-of-the-art MEMS devices.

MEMS also figure in two of the most recent ASN Buzz postings:

VTI’s SOI-MEMS multi-axis accelerometer is the “stride sensor chip” in the miCoach real-time training system (Courtesy: VTI Technologies, adidas and Samsung)

In the next few weeks, we’ll also be posting a new article by Soitec on their Smart Stacking(tm) technology for the next generation of MEMS with pre-etched cavities, among other things.

If you’d like to see more of the why’s and wherefore’s of SOI-MEMS apps, just type “MEMS” into ASN’s search engine.  You’ll get dozens of pieces from and about leaders like ST, ADI, Denso, VTI, Tronics, IBM and more.

It’s a pretty fragmented world, still, so if you know cool SOI-MEMS apps we should be covering, would you let me know?