Market leader ST Microelectronics is increasing its MEMS production capacity to more than 3 million sensors a day by the end of 2011.
ST Microelectronics, a global semiconductor leader and leading supplier of MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) for consumer and portable applications is increasing its production capacity to sustain enhanced customer demand for high-performance, cost-competitive sensing devices.
ST’s MEMS sensors have enabled motion-activated user interfaces in a number of popular consumer devices including smart phones, tablets, personal media players, game consoles, digital still cameras and remotes.
Computer manufacturers widely use ST’s acceleration sensors for free-fall protection in laptop hard-disk drives while car equipment makers integrate ST’s MEMS in applications such as airbags and enhanced navigation systems.
According to Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General Manager of ST’s MEMS, Sensors and High Performance Analog Division, the increased manufacturing capacity of micro-machined sensors will encourage the adoption of MEMS in high-growth healthcare, industrial and automotive markets while helping the company to continue leading the market.
As one of the earliest manufacturers in the world to start producing MEMS devices on 8-inch silicon wafers, ST has been able to significantly reduce unit costs and accelerate the expansion of existing applications as well as the development of new MEMS markets.
ST MEMS are produced at manufacturing facilities in Agrate and Catania, Italy (sensor fabrication), Rousset and Crolles, France (logic die production), and Kirkop, Malta and Calamba, Philippines (assembly and testing).
ST’s MEMS sensor production benefits from the company-developed industry-leading manufacturing processes. The THELMA (Thick Epi-Poly Layer for Microactuators and Accelerometers) surface micro-machining process, which combines variably thick and thin poly-silicon layers for structures and interconnections, is used for manufacturing accelerometers and gyroscopes.
This enables the integration of linear and angular mechanical elements in a single chip, delivering significant cost and size benefits to customers. The complementary VENSENS (‘Venice Sensor’) process allows the integration of a cavity into mono-crystalline silicon, producing an ultra-compact pressure sensor with excellent size and performance capabilities.
ST’s state-of-the-art MEMS assembly-and-testing platform is capable of handling a large number of sensor devices in parallel while generating constant and repeatable test stimuli for each single device to dramatically increase total productivity.