Electronic Design

One Company’s Push for Commercializing Low-Cost MEMS Motion Sensors

Many companies are working hard to mass-produce and commercialize MEMS motion sensors to making them low-cost items. One of the most aggressive efforts has come from ST Microelectronics. Last November, it dedicated a MEMS production facility capable of handling 8-in. MEMS wafers, instead of the usual industry 6-in. wafers and is the only one of its kind. Producing more chips per wafer means a lower-cost per chip. In fact, the company has been a pioneer in using low-cost MEMS accelerometers in video games, medical applications, white goods appliances, and cell phones. A pioneer in MEMS sensor development, ST Microelectronics was the first to produce a single 3-axis accelerometers a few years ago, at a time when everyone else was perpendicularly mounting two-axis accelerometers to obtain 3 axes of motion sensing. That development was a strong driver in making the cost of 3-axis MEMS accelerometers accessible to a wider range of users, thus broadening the market. At the tine, ST Microelectronics perfected a technique that allowed packaging the MEMS sensor in a plastic package, instead of a more expensive ceramic package, thus lowering its costs. The plastic packaging system was designed for minimal parasitic effects, eliminating vibration-caused problems with the sensor’s motion. The company recently signed an agreement with the SAES Getters Group, a leader in getter technology, to integrate their technologies for making tiny multi-axis MEMS gyroscopes. One of the most advanced 3-axis accelerometers from ST Microelectronics is the 3-axis LIS302 accelerometer with a small form factor, low-power consumption and a high degree of design flexibility.

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