MEMS and Sensors

Deep Glass Dry Etch for MEMS Applications

March 2015

Whitepaper Topics: MEMS, micromachining, dry glass etch, neutral loop discharge (NLD) plasma.

Glass Etch Process Overview

Glass is low-cost alternative to silicon that is gaining popularity in semiconductor and MEMS applications. This is evident by the growing glass wafer demand, which is expected to increase from $158M in 2012, to $1.3B in 20181. This is equivalent to a compound annual growth (CAGR) of 41%. The most promising applications are wafer level packaging for memory and logic integrated circuits (ICs). Traditionally, silicon is used for through-substrate vias (TSVs) in 2.5D and 3D IC integration. Silicon as a material is relatively expensive and requires additional processing to provide proper shielding between interposers to avoid shorting and current leakage paths. Glass is a good dielectric material that can be processed using low-cost mass manufacturing techniques that are not available to their silicon counterparts. This helps keeping additional capital investments low. In addition to interposers and die stacking, glass is being used for MEMS, CMOS image sensors, power, memory, RF circuitry and microfluidic applications.

MEMS and Sensors

CMOS-compatible PZT Sputtering for MEMS Applications

May 2016

Whitepaper Topics: piezoelectricity, pyroelectricity, piezo MEMS, micromachining, thin-film deposition, sputtering, PZT, CMOS-integration, CMOS-compatibility, sensors and actuators.


There are major technical challenges to overcome as microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices are expected to shrink in size, improve in performance and to seamlessly integrate with CMOS processing. Leading MEMS product companies are pushing the boundaries for silicon-based capacitive and piezoresistive sensors and are increasingly moving from traditional integrated circuit (IC) footprints to wafer level packaged (WLP) alternatives, in order to minimize device sizes and cost. It does not end there. Continued scaling towards the nano domain (nanoelectromechanical system devices or NEMS) requires alternative technologies and materials that can provide higher signal output at smaller device geometries. A promising technology is piezoelectric thin films for MEMS sensors, actuators and energy harvesters. Piezo-electric materials generate an electrical output in response to applied mechanical stress. This is referred to as the piezoelectric effect and can be used to directly convert mechanical energy to electrical energy in sensing applications like inertial sensors. The reverse is also true. An electrical signal applied to a piezoelectric material will cause displacement. This inverse piezoelectric effect is widely used for microactuators that turn valves on and off in microfluidic applications.

MEMS and Sensors

Thin Film Batteries: An Overview of Materials, Processes and Applications

June 2017

Whitepaper Topics: thin-film battery, solid state battery, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), physical vapor deposition (PVD), sputtering, evaporation, vapor deposition polymerization, organic and inorganic deposition.


The thin film battery market was $35 million in 2014 and is expected to grow quickly to reach $3.4 billion by 2021. This expected growth is attributed to opportunities across all major industries, and the interest has specifically been focused on the emerging markets in wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) over the past few years. The volume in shipments of thin-film batteries is projected to accelerate towards the end of the forecasted period due to improvements in technology and establishment of infrastructure to support economies of scale and a competitive cost structure. Thin film batteries are essentially thinner and more flexible versions of traditional batteries for storing chemical energy. As electronic devices are becoming increasingly smaller, there is a growing need for batteries that are small, flexible, and rechargeable. There is limited space in small electronic devices, especially for the traditional bulky cylindrical or rectangular batteries. Many wearables have smooth curves and designers want the flexibility of including a battery that can take almost any shape to fit in small, non-linear cavities. In addition, each application is slightly different and requires the ability to customize the performance of a battery to provide the best “fit”. Batteries for radio frequency identification (RFID) tags must be optimized for low-discharge rates to minimize leakage and ensure usage over an extended period of time, whereas other applications such as wearables require periodic and quick discharge rates to perform, for example, pulse oximetry measurements.