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Project aims at universal MEMS design methodology

Posted: 11 Feb 2013  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mems  actuator  design 

A research project known as "Circuit Diagram-Based Design of MEMS for Applications in Optics and Robotics"—or MEMS2015 for short—aims to develop the first ever universal design methodology for MEMS to plug the gaps between electronics and mechanics design, manufacturing, and subsequent integration into products.

This project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and coordinated by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Potential 50 per cent increase in the market for MEMS
The new development methods for MEMS are expected to substantially increase the opportunities for widespread use of MEMS in the professional and security-relevant segments. The new methods will also allow small and medium-sized enterprises to design MEMS and integrate them into their products much more often, as well as in a wider range of configurations than at present. What is more, the potential market for MEMS stands to increase by up to 50 per cent as a result.

Projecting images directly onto the retina
These new development methods for MEMS will pave the way for entirely new solutions in the leading-edge applications of optics and robotics. This opens up the prospect of the wide-ranging use of micromirror arrays, similar to the devices already being used in projectors. This technology allows images to be projected directly onto the retina using special glasses. In robotics, force sensors and profilometers can be developed that analyse surfaces even more accurately than before, or that simulate an extremely precise sense of touch. The project findings are being verified as part of the project on the basis of real MEMS prototypes which, in turn, serve as demonstrators.

"The project opens up innovations in mechanical engineering and process plant engineering by using powerful sensor and actuator systems based on ground breaking MEMS and chip technologies," says Mirco Meiners, the project coordinator for MEMS2015 who works in the Bosch Automotive Electronics division. "The clear focus of funding from Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) helps companies maintain their lead in innovation for key technology topics and develop new innovative, complex products."

"The MEMS2015 project raises the bar when it comes to the quality and especially the productivity of MEMS design," says Prof. Ralf Sommer, the scientific director of the Institut für Mikroelektronik- und Mechatronik-Systeme gemeinnützige GmbH, one of the eight partners in the project. "Basic concepts such as circuit diagram-based design, which are already successfully used in microelectronics design, are now being transferred to MEMS design. This offers users enormous advantages: for one thing, MEMS2015 facilitates new highly complex products, such as micromirror arrays, and speeds up the process of bringing them to market. For another, the project will allow us in the long run to produce a Lego-brick-style design. This will above all benefit small and medium-sized enterprises, allowing them to put together their own individual, tailor-made solutions in a flexible modular MEMS and electronics system."

Eight partners from research and industry
The MEMS2015 research project, which has a three-year term and around Rs.25 crore (€3.5 million) in funding from Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the German government's High-Tech Strategy and the ICT 2020 development programme, brings together the potential of eight partners from research and industry: Cadence Design Systems GmbH, Carl Zeiss SMT GmbH, Institut für Mikroelektronik- und Mechatronik-Systeme GmbH, Robert Bosch GmbH, the Technical University of Munich, TETRA Gesellschaft für Sensorik, Robotik und Automation mbH, the University of Bremen, and X-FAB Semiconductor Foundries AG. The edacentrum in Hannover is responsible for project management for MEMS2015.

- Julien Happich
  EE Times





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