Development Tools Expand Support For MEMS Designs

July 10, 2000
Designers of MEMS-enabled systems now have more system-level tools to use. Microcosm Technologies Inc., Cary, N.C., has expanded its software-development environment to expedite the design of MEMS and non-MEMS devices, mixed-signal circuits, and...

Designers of MEMS-enabled systems now have more system-level tools to use. Microcosm Technologies Inc., Cary, N.C., has expanded its software-development environment to expedite the design of MEMS and non-MEMS devices, mixed-signal circuits, and opto-electromechanical MEMS ICs for communications applications.

The first available interface targets Cadence's schematic-driven layout environment. Designers can create MEMS structures within the familiar environment by using Microcosm-provided library elements and foundry-specific process information. Or, they can import parameterized six-degree-of-freedom (6DOF) models created through Microcosm's MEMCAD software.

Subsequently, designers can model and simulate MEMS devices integrated with the controlling electronics. Then, they can refine the MEMS component design from within the environment by changing parameters as required and producing files used for manufacturing. When designers require detailed MEMS component performance verification, they can perform boundary/finite-element 6DOF modeling within the Microcosm software tool suite.

"We chose Cadence as our first interface based on customer requests and our desire to link MEMS technology into best-of-class tools," explains John Studders, director of product development at Microcosm. "We also intend to integrate with other leading system-design CAD tools."

Additionally, Microcosm now supports opto-electromechanical modeling of micro-optical-electromechanical systems (MOEMS) within MEMCAD. A single simulation environment incorporates the three domains inherent to 3D optical MEMS: electronic, mechanical, and free-space optical (Fig. 1).

This robust modeling capability shortens the development cycle of optical applications. Network systems developers can simulate the impact of the MOEMS device in the complete system and adjust the device and system design, if needed, prior to prototyping. Designers can implement top-down design of a proposed MOEMS system, as well as bottom-up verification of the system performance, entirely within MEMCAD.

"Opto-electromechanical simulation is especially important for micromirrors and microlenses used for wavelength selection and optical routing in network switches," says Art Morris, advanced development manager for RF and optics at Microcosm. "Optical switching solutions for large fiber counts require precise analog control to achieve the critical alignment needed for low optical loss. The design of these optical systems requires co-simulation of the optics, MEMS electromechanics, and control systems, sensors, and circuitry. Co-simulation enables the evaluation of tolerance, environmental, and packaging effects, as well as the optimization of the system as a whole."

The company also has extended its support for MEMS modeling for RF/wireless applications. This will permit the development of high-Q resonators and varactors, inductors, filters for K-band and higher frequency applications, switches, and other components (Fig. 2). Within MEMCAD, RF/wireless designers can create application-specific components through Microcosm's Catapult 2D layout editor. They also can perform full 6DOF simulation within the MEMCAD environment.

"People designing at the RF system level, where integration of passive and active components can provide reduced power consumption, size, and cost, want flexible and accurate RF MEMS analysis capability that lets them optimize performance," explains Randy Richards, Microcosm's senior business development manager for RF/wireless. "They typically don't want predefined libraries of unparameterized components."

For more information, contact Microcosm at (919) 854-7500. Or, go to

About the Author

Roger Allan

Roger Allan is an electronics journalism veteran, and served as Electronic Design's Executive Editor for 15 of those years. He has covered just about every technology beat from semiconductors, components, packaging and power devices, to communications, test and measurement, automotive electronics, robotics, medical electronics, military electronics, robotics, and industrial electronics. His specialties include MEMS and nanoelectronics technologies. He is a contributor to the McGraw Hill Annual Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. He is also a Life Senior Member of the IEEE and holds a BSEE from New York University's School of Engineering and Science. Roger has worked for major electronics magazines besides Electronic Design, including the IEEE Spectrum, Electronics, EDN, Electronic Products, and the British New Scientist. He also has working experience in the electronics industry as a design engineer in filters, power supplies and control systems.

After his retirement from Electronic Design Magazine, He has been extensively contributing articles for Penton’s Electronic Design, Power Electronics Technology, Energy Efficiency and Technology (EE&T) and Microwaves RF Magazine, covering all of the aforementioned electronics segments as well as energy efficiency, harvesting and related technologies. He has also contributed articles to other electronics technology magazines worldwide.

He is a “jack of all trades and a master in leading-edge technologies” like MEMS, nanolectronics, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, military electronics, biometrics, implantable medical devices, and energy harvesting and related technologies.

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