Challenges for MEMS, sensors, and semiconductors

By Bettina Weiss, VP, Business Development and Product Management, SEMI

Leading industry experts participated in the joint SEMI-MEMS Industry Group (MIG) workshop during SEMICON West 2015 to discuss industry challenges – and potential solutions and collaborative approaches – in the MEMS, sensors and semiconductor industries. The group discussed commonalities, lessons learned, and tried-and-true solutions such as standardization, best known methods (BKMs) and other pre- or non-competitive platforms to tackle some of the more vexing technology challenges in MEMS, sensors, and semiconductors. Disucssions covered heterogeneous integration, system-level packaging and a likely  move to 300mm wafers for MEMS devices.

The joint workshop was a direct result of a survey from both SEMI and MIG, conducted in parallel among their respective members in the spring.  SEMI and MIG members were asked to respond to and rank issues and challenges they see coming in the next 5-10 years, from product development and ramping to testing, packaging, and the need for Standards and broader platforms for collaboration. As an example, the chart below shows a strong indication on both the semiconductor as well as the MEMS/sensor side for the importance of higher integration devices, which makes it a natural topic for SEMI and MIG members to collaborate.

Alissa Fitzgerald of AM Fitzgerald & Associates, Dave Thomas of STPS Technologies, and Michael Nagib of Si-Ware Systems kicked off the workshop with presentations highlighting their perspective of overarching industry challenges and how innovative solutions create smarter products. Fitzgerald spoke specifically to “The Business Case for MEMS Standardization,” providing concrete examples – SOI wafer specifications and DRIE test pattern and recipe performance ─ where Standards could provide immediate benefits to the MEMS industry. She encouraged executives to study the financial benefits derived from standards and to send their engineers to actively contribute to new standards development.

The panel discussion following the presentations provided substance for the subsequent Q&A and open discussion. Moderated by Steve Whalley of MEMS Industry Group, Mike Rosa of Applied Materials, Bill Chen of ASE Group, Nim Tea of InvenSense, Inc. and Claire Troadec of Yole Developpment discussed “Manufacturing for the Internet of Things” from their vantage points and then participated in the open discussion. MEMS, sensors and semiconductor devices are headed to the Internet of Things – and that means the IoT will also require Standards. Participants talked about a variety of topics where Standards can be beneficial, from specifications for thin wafer handling and novel materials to FOLWP, monolithic integration between CMOS and MEMS and optimization of volume production processes.

Are supply chain stakeholders really collaborating, though, to leverage existing Standards, as well as jointly prioritize the need for new specifications and test methods? Are there other platforms for achieving shared objectives aside from Standards? How can we drive solutions with speed and agility? SEMI and MIG will take up these issues with the formation of a Joint Task Force to address these and other critical issues. And as a first step, both organizations will put together a landscape document of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) and a list of available Standards for each one, to assess what Standards already exists, which ones are applicable to both the MEMS/sensor and semiconductor industries, and then identify gaps and opportunities for new, industry-wide solutions. This is an exciting time. Become part of this activity and help shape the future!

For more information, please contact Bettina Weiss at [email protected]. Upcoming MEMS events include: SEMI European MEMS Summit and MEMS Executive Congress US 2015


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2 thoughts on “Challenges for MEMS, sensors, and semiconductors

  1. Jan V

    This is an interesting perspective on what IoT means for the semiconductor word. Many of the findings here are complementary to what I have found when I investigated this topic recently in a lot of depth. Check out There you can find an in depth course about what IoT means for semiconductors. This is very complementary to the findings in this article. Use the discount code IoTIntroPrice to get the course for almost free.

  2. Vadim Rakhovsky

    To confront the challenges faced today by MEMS industry, it makes sense to consider Sub-Wavelength Holographic Lithography (SWHL) that provides principally new possibilities for the production of 3D-structures for MEMS, sensors and IC for IoT.

    SWHL produces aerial images as a holographic image by illuminating specially calculated holographic mask by converging spherical wave. As a result, it becomes possible to:
    1) Use only one holographic mask during only one exposure to produce sharp aerial images with sub-wave resolution on several surfaces located at distances much more than the length of focus of the employed optical train;
    2) Make corrections of sub-wavelength aerial images elements during the process of holographic mask calculation without usage of any technologically complicate operations like OPC or Phase-Shift
    3) Use masks where elements of topology are geometrically similar and simple
    4) Create aerial images with sub-wavelength CD’s with the help of holographic masks where min size of topology elements substantially exceeds the wavelength of light source employed;
    5) Keep CD on holographic mask constant even when moving from one technology node to another;
    6) Eliminate the problem of aerial image sensitivity to mask local defects. Defects of holographic masks do not impact quality of aerial images, which makes such masks much less expensive to produce and service, and significantly extends its useful lifetime
    7) Significantly reduce complexity and costs associated with optical train of a stepper/aligner because holographic masks perform functions of a mask and of a lens.

    Physical concept of SWHL has been experimentally verified


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