Semiconductor manufacturing for wide-band GAP/MEMS

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Elcina organized a webinar today on semiconductor manufacturing for wide-band GAP (WBG)/MEMS. Rajoo Goel, Secretary General, Elcina, welcomed the participants. Pankaj Gulati, COO, CDIL, said that a lot of automotive companies, especially, require semiconductors today.

Dr. Ashwini Aggarwal, Director-Government Affairs, Applied Materials India Pvt Ltd said today is the era of Big Data, AI, and IoT. WBG semiconductors comprise silicon carbide, gallium nitride, diamond, etc. Besides, there are other materials such as silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide, zinc oxide, etc.

Band gap is the energy required to excite an electron from the valence band to the conduction band. Due to the large band energy, high temperature is required to cause ionization, so that high temperature is possible. WBG characteristics include lower on-resistance, faster switching speeds and lower switching losses, higher operating temperatures, better thermal conductivity, smaller size, lower cost, etc.

WBG is dramatically impacting semiconductors. These are used for EV/HEVs, power electronics, charging infrastructures, etc. Bare dies are packaged in discretes or modules. SiC is used for high-voltage apps, while GaN is used for low voltage. The power device market is projected to grow from 2019-24. There are also several GaN inflections, such as P-GaN, LV GaN, HV GaN, etc.

There are several WBG power devices manufacturing solutions, such as CMP (vertical GaN), MOCVD/ALD, deep reactive ion etch, PVD/CVD, transparent wafer handling, etc. These are used in IoT, communications, automotive, power, etc. GaN and SiC WBG semiconductors are largely complementary. Mainstream manufacturing is typically on the 12″ wafer size. Manufacturing equipment has to be customized to specific technology process.

Plans for India
ViSiCon Power Electronics was founded by Dr. Harshad Mehta back in 1994. Sunil Kaul, Senior Adviser, said SiCamore SEMI is leading and accelerating WBG commercialization. Ruttonsha is focusing on Si and GaN. SiC offers major advantages.

With an SiC fab, India can an active player in the next-gen power devices market. Specialty fabs for WBGs like GaN and SiC cost less than $50 million. ViSiCon’s shall bridge the gaps in India’s existing power semiconductor ecosystem. It is the first commercial company to bring SiC epi/wafer/packaging manufacturing to India.

Dr. Michael Francios, Silicon Power Corp., said their SiC development began in 1996 with Northrup-Grumman. SiCamore Semi is a US-based and owned pure-play foundry for advanced materials and power semiconductors. The SiCamore foundry should reach 6″ SiC and processes, and 6″ GaN processes in 2021, moving to 6″ SiC UHP in 2023.

The company has 3.3kV SiC planar-gate power JBSFETs. It is the second foundry for SiC power devices. Target app areas include HVs/EVs, renewable energy, mobile chargers/adapters, rail traction, electric power grid, military, aerospace, etc. The basic technology can also be used for other (650V, 900V, 1200V and 1700V) SiC power projects.

The sun is the primary UV source. UN detection is very important from different apps perspective. These devices are exposed to significantly harsh environments. Here, GaN- and AlGaN-based (and SiC, and ZnO) WBG semiconductors fit in. They remain blind to visible and IR radiation. Niche app areas include biological and chemical analysis, flame detection, space and environmental monitoring, and remote control technologies.

The key value proposition is developing GaN-/AlGaN-based photodetectors of high bandwidths and efficiencies. Key partners to Silicon Power are SiCamore Semi, and Nanoglass Photonics.

MEMS and sensors driving innovation: Flex 2021

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There was a panel discussion on MEMS and sensors driving innovation at the ongoing SEMI Flex 2021. The participants were Matthew Dyson, IDTechEx, Hadi Hosseini, Stanford University, Michael Brothers, UES and ARFL, Ms. Erin Ratcliff, University of Arizona, Michael Crump, University of Washington, and Ms. Moran Amit, University of California, San Diego.

Matthew Dyson said there are lot of benefits and significant savings over time. There are apps in wearable, stretchable devices, etc. There is demand from smartphones that is the driver of MEMS and sensors business. A lot of money is also going into printable electronics.

Michael Brothers added that you have to identify key parameters within your own scenario. Ms. Erin Ratcliff noted that we need to look at larger area for sweat, as an example. We are doing architectural design in the virtual space. Michael Crump, said that with stretchable field sensors, you can stretch sensitive materials. You can see a baseline shift, as you stretch them. We took the approach of 3D printed jel paste where zero space does not change. We also need to look at how the sensors resistance changes over time.

Ms. Moran Amit added the baseline is a bit different for them. An example is the thermometer. 36.7C is normal for everyone. If the baseline is zero, it may still look different from a kid to another. Different sensors would work for different kids. Hadi Hosseini said that people are looking to use the wearables to diagnose illnesses. We are looking at changes in oxidation in the blood. We are also prototyping. We got a grant last year to develop a device. We are hoping to collect data for children with ADHD. My focus is on mental illness. There are other areas like mental wellness.

Medical community responding to sensors
It would be interesting to see how is the medical community responding to the use of sensors. Michael Brothers said there is some response. One of the key drivers is cost and benefit. People are interested in wearables. There are factors preventing adoption in the medical community, for now.

Turning to non-imaging techniques, what bio-parameters in a wearable device could help with mental health diagnosis? Hadi Hosseini said that with ADHD, you can use sensors to identify patterns in the child. People have been also looking at cell phones to collect data in the background. Matthew Dyson added that wearables for mental health diagnosis have been developed in Belgium. Monitoring of electrical signals include muscle and brain activity for mental health diagnosis. Ms. Erin Ratcliff said when you design a sensor, it has to give information about something new. How do you translate that into full device study?

Michael Brothers felt that biosystems work in a different way. Sensors should be created to identify changes in the human body. You have ask about the right problems. You also need clinical trials to introduce new sensors. It is also very hard to determine physiological relations. Ms Erin Ratcliffe added that there are teams that design sensors. You may have to guess the range, but that’s not a useful detection strategy.

Matthew Dyson said there is a lot applicable to flexible electronics. There should be specific bodies for doing that. There should be some designated standards bodies. Ms. Erin Ratcliffe noted that consortium models are beginning to evolve. Companies also hope to listen.

World greener
According to Michael Crump, sustainability is pervasive throughout. They are able to print features for energy overhead. As for using AI/ML for key markers, Hadi Hosseini said that we don’t have enough data yet for specific disorders. It takes time to collect data. There are lot of ML studies. Generalizing data for 100-200 patients can be challenging. We collect brain imaging data from patients to identify sub-types of illnesses.

Michael Brothers added there can be array sensors, mass factor patterns, etc. There is lot of work needed in AI/ML. It is an interesting problem. The issue is: how do you collect all the data? Ms. Moran Amit said that there is stress on waste and sustainability. Our system has the doctor equipped with it, to assess many people. A thermometer can be used over and over again. There may be less sales.

Michael Crump felt that there is a need to get to conductive trace. We don’t want to be printing lines and lines, but just one line. We are trying to get to the place where we can print something from a single pass. Ms. Erin Ratcliffe added there needs to be more targeted focus on $10-15 type models, rather than $100 and above. Hadi Hosseini said there are many different technologies. Some of them are not yet developed enough or are underdeveloped. We need to work with the others. There’s the application of more advanced techniques, such as printable materials.

Matthew Dyson felt there is room for new technologies. A lot of progress is made on printed electronics. Sensors are being deployed in cars, wearables, missiles, etc. There will be more apps that make it to commercial reality.

Electronics on the brain: Flex 2021

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Day 3 of the SEMI Flex 2021 started with George Malliaras, Prince Philip Prof. of Technology, University of Cambridge, presenting the keynote on electronics on the brain.

One of the most important scientific and technological frontiers of our time is the interfacing of electronics with the human brain. This endeavor promises to help understand how the brain works and deliver new tools for the diagnosis and treatment of pathologies including epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

George Malliaras.

Current solutions are limited by the materials that are brought in contact with the tissue and transduce signals across the biotic/abiotic interface. Recent advances in electronics have made available materials with a unique combination of attractive properties, including mechanical flexibility, mixed ionic/electronic conduction, enhanced biocompatibility, and capability for drug delivery. He presented examples of novel devices for recording and stimulation of neurons and show that organic electronic materials offer tremendous opportunities to study the brain and treat its pathologies.

Bioelectronic medicine is game changing. There has been the emergence of bioelectronic medicine. We have nerve simulation for autoimmune diseases, etc. The current technology is however, limiting. Signals are small and diverse, and the environment is hostile to electronics. It also requires highly invasive and multiple surgeries.

Teaching electronics is sometimes a foreign language. We need to get drugs into the brain. Bioelectronics is interfacing biology and electronics. There is sensing and diagnosis. This leads to actuation and treatment of the brain. High resolution brain mapping is an example. If you use organices, there is used mixed conductivity that leads to novel, state-of-the-art devices. The physics of these materials is still under investigation.

There is volumetric ion transport in PEDOT/PSS microelectrodes. There are recordings of single neurons from the brain surface. Current work is looking at large area and high density. We also have some options for treating epilepsy.

There is localised drug delivery past the blood-brain barrier. These have been used for brain cancers, and there is a large gamut of drugs. We can get spatiotemporal control, as well. However, wafers offer limited cargo and it is not suitable. we need to develop new technologies. An example is the organic electronic ion pump. In the ion exchange membrane, the ions flow in only one direction — from source to target.

There is electrophoretic drug delivery, as well. We use GABA delivery in vitro. Also, implantable devices stop or prevent seizures. Another app is chemotherapy delivery to nonresectable brain tumours. Implants often require highly invasive surgery. Paddle-type electrodes are more efficient, but they require lamenectomy.

When you combine bioelectronics with soft robotics, there are expandable impants. There is dynamic control of the device shape. You can deploy in spinal cords in cadavers.

Implantable electronics hold considerable promise for understanding te brain and addressing the pathologies. Mixed conductors enable high resolution cortical electrodes that record neurons without penetrating the brain. Electrophoretic devices can deliver the drug without the solvent, with excellent spatiotemporal resolution. They stop/prevent seizures in an animal model. Microfluidics allow expandable implants that minimize the invasiveness of neurosurgery.

Embedded computing with image sensors

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Day 3 of SEMI Technology Unites Global Summit 2021 began with two sessions: MEMS and Sensors, and Fab Management.

Speaking at the MEMS and Sensors summit, Gianluigi Casse, Bruno Kessler Foundation (Fondazione Bruno Kessler – FBK), Technology and Knowledge Open Hub, said the FBK has 12 research labs and over 400 researchers, with 51 patents and 23 joint innovation labs. The FBK CMM (Center for Materials and Microsystems) works on several research topics. The microelectronics industry has gone very far since inception, to anticipate new markets in strategic sectors.

New challenges include quantum technologies, big science, space economy, etc. There has been renewing infrastructure such as integrating technology platform, and FESR+IPCEI founds. They have also updated the co-operation model.

The FBK internal foundry has four large labs. This takes care of design, fabrication, test and packaging. Some areas are silicon drift detectors, thin silicon sensors, and MEMS and superconducting circuits and systems. The external foundries are focused on CMOS fabrication, such as CMOS SPAD image sensors, quantum random number generators, etc.

With IPCEI, FBK is a partner with 24 partners and 2 research centers, including CEA-Leti). With FCSR, it has nanotech capabilities enabling QT R&D through submicron and deep submicron structure definition. With FCSR, it is working on nanotechnologies using EBL and ion beam. With IPCEI, it is working on heterogenous integration using wafer thinning, through-silicon vias, and wafer bonding.

FBK is also working on devices for the future, such as quantum, space, etc. It is leveraging the open hub paradigm in areas such as silicon technology, silicon photonics, nanotechnology, heterogenous integration, and chip stacking. There is R&D being done in quantum technologies. Examples are EPIQUS (chip-scale quantum photonic-electronic platform), QRANGE and FastGhost (ghost imaging microscope). In big science, it has SiPM (silicon photomultipliers and low-gain avalanche diodes) and LGAD, and MAPS (monolithic active pixel sensor for proton sensing). It has also developed 3D flash lidar cameras and miniaturized StarTracker on chip for nano satellites.

In future, FBK will provide advanced, open and customizable technology platform. It will also invest more in the devices of the future, such as integrated photonics/detectors in Q SPAD imaging for quantum and space SiPM, LGAD and MAPS for big science.

Embedded computing for image sensors
Pierre Cambou, Yole Développement, talked about Embedded Computing the Next Paradigm Shift for Image Sensors at the MEMS and Imaging Sensors summit.

The CMOS image sensor (CIS) 2021 revenues represents 5.1 percent of the global semiconductor market. Mobile business has been the largest market for 2019, followed by computing, automotive, security and industrial. Technologies and markets have changed dramatically over the years. The optical fingerprint recognition adoption scenario is changing. It is an alternative to facial recognition. 3D camera market scenario is also changing as the adoption switches to rear cameras.

Wafer shipments by technology have seen 10 percent for sensing. In mobile technology trends, Samsung is now matching Sony’s previous technology. Also, triple-stack technology includes a 32nm DRAM wafer. In-pixel hybrid stack connection pitch allows for 10um (mu) pixels.

There is always-on video-based context awareness. There is voice- to video-based devices, as well as embedded intelligence. Sensing and computing trade-offs are also there for autonomous driving (AD). Computing power increases with the square of data. Embedded computing will avoid cloud compute saturation for realtime and critical apps.

If we look at embedded AI, there is an answer from Sony. There is the innovation path for the CIS industry. Sony, STMicroelectronics, Samsung, etc., are leading the way. In quantum image sensors, there is dynamic low-light imaging with Quanta image sensors. There can also be combination of images and IMU for robust SLAM in HDR and high-speed scenarios.

Sensing will be the main driver for the next paradigm shift. AI is the new revolution in the cloud and embedded. New generation of image sensors will benefit from the trend.

Event-based vision
Luca Verre, Prophesee presented on Toward Event-Based Vision Wide-scale Adoption at the MEMS and Imaging Sensors summit. Since the beginning, there have been new opportunity areas. There are AR/VR, automotive, etc., that are new areas opening up.

We are revealing the invisible between the frames. Prophesee is capturing motion via static representation. It is focusing on event-based vision. In a video, he explained there is no gap between the frames as there are no frames anymore. It has been adding intelligence down to the pixel, as well. This also leads to zero redundancy sampling, pixel-individual sampling optimization, etc.

Prophesee has also been doing pixel evolution, since 2014. With Sony, it announced during ISSCC 2020 that they developed a stack-event-based vision sensor. This has the smallest pixels, best HDR performance, and highest AER event readout.

The product line-up includes Metavision sensors, Metavision evaluation kits, for sensing, and Metavision Designer and Kit. Their partners are Imago and Century Arks.

He gave examples of spatter monitoring that tracks small particles with spatter-like motion. Another is high-speed counting without any motion blur. In ML, they have a pre-trained network. An event-based camera detects pedestrians in night, as an example.

Covid-19 disruptor of biomedical research and healthcare: PMWC 2021

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Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2021 began in Silicon Valley, USA today. Keith Yamamoto, UCSF and Session Chair, welcomed the audience. The panel discussed how Covid-19 led to disruption of biomedical research and healthcare.

Healthcare practice, data sharing, telemedicine, clinical trial design, and enrollment adapted in real time, and opportunities emerged to establish value-based strategies that could transform 21st century healthcare through collaboration around a big-data ecosystem.

Dr. Jeffrey R. Balser, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), said there is a need to collect patient information. REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) facilitates co-operative research.

REDCap is a web-based software solution and tool set that allows biomedical researchers to create secure online forms for data capture, management and analysis with minimal effort and training. The Shared Data Instrument Library (SDIL) is a relatively new component of REDCap that allows sharing of commonly used data collection instruments for immediate study use by research teams. There is also a cancer patients database. These kinds of tools are critical.

We are trying to prioritise the vaccine, which is right now in limited quantity. We can develop automated ways to pull out patients. That capability is not yet there at scale in the USA. There is also lot of mechanical stuff around telehealth. At Pfizer, people pay by the month. We are not there yet. We need pre-authorization for everyone to do telehealth business. We need to schedule people for vaccination. We need an infrastructure around telehealth that scales for the country.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, Stanford University School of Medicine, added that this has been a challenging time. Besides being an academic researcher, part of her role is to work on clinical response. They were able to build a proprietary FTA PPE for Covid-19. They rapidly developed clinical trials for the outpatients. We took care not to risk the exposure to the other patients. We studied, patients, trends, and risk factors. We are tracking several thousands of people around the Bay Area. We studied the population impact of this disease. We also built more community engagement.

One other aspect that needs to be conquered is: how do we find people? They have access to different modalities. We need to approach them at the community level. There are mobile phones that can be tapped into, if required. Where is also the national framework for healthcare? We need to deal with that. We have the opportunity now.

Dr. Peter Walter, UCSF, said that their labs were initially shut down. We used technology for a different purpose. The nanobody was developed. It is a simple version of the antibody. We accomplished our tasks within five months. The research needs to be continued, and carried on to the next steps. We have some information, so far. We need more clinical testing to be done. We also need to take the ball from one player to another. The distribution of nanobodies would become easier, over time. There is need for a more creative approach for the future.

Dr. Ralph Snyderman, Duke University, noted that poor people have less access to telehealth. We need to extend those. There is a tremendous need for interconnectedness. There has been a failure, and there is need for an infrastructure for the continuity for care. Developing solutions were a series of one-off. We need to bridge the last mile. They had immunized 14,000 people, but that is a small number. We also need to have implementation science. Also, to participate at a minimum, you need a smartphone. If people can come to the health center, we can look after them. Who can give every participant a smart device? We need to have the capability to get distance technology to the people. Basic science alone will not be sufficient.

What a year, 2020! Welcome 2021!!

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Welcome, 2021! The year 2020 is gone!! It is history!!! It was the year of the Covid-19, or, coronavirus. Note: the pandemic has not yet gone. Now, a new strain is doing the rounds. Some vaccines have already started shipping. Luckily, my family, and I have survived the year 2020! We sincerely hope you and your families have survived, as well. How many of us can survive this year? Fingers crossed, we hope that everyone should! We now look forward to the new year. There are hopes for proper vaccines, and those should be available for all, hopefully, soon!

Today, I wish to speak about how 2020 turned out to be a great year for me. Till March 2020, things were slow, as usual. Thereafter, they changed, and, fast! It all started with Yole Développement, France’s rapid, point-of-care molecular tests that help fight Covid-19, last April. There was a Semtech webinar on 5G fact vs. fiction, and how LoRaWAN plays a role. Next, Messe Muenchen India, hosted a webinar titled: ‘Opportunities in Medical Electronics post Covid-19’.

These were followed by the iconic IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS) 2020 in May 2020. For 57 years, the IRPS has been premiere conference for engineers and scientists to present new and original work in the area of microelectronics reliability. I made a new lot of followers.

Next, came Nokia, with the world’s first drone tsunami evacuation alerts in Sendai City, Japan. Infineon Technologies had a session on smart buildings. The Small Cell Forum spoke about how it was driving the ecosystem of small cell mobile infrastructure. This was followed by Dassault Systèmes and Aden Group for the Akila Care hospital for Covid-19, after the Leishenshan hospital in Wuhan, China! May 2020 ended with SEMI, SEMI Foundation and The Gig Economy webinar titled: Designing the future of work!

June 2020 was an even bigger month! BloombergNEF presented on India’s clean power revolution. Next, there was the 2020 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits. It was held virtually for the first time! Following this came the IEEE 70th Electronic Components and Technology Conference (ECTC) 2020. Again, it was virtually held, for the first time. And, again, more followers came in!

Semicon West ahoy!
In July, the Semicon West 2020 event was held virtually, for the first time. According to Al Gore, some of the innovation around new materials is immense! So was ITC India 2020! Among the many presentations, one on ‘silicon lifecycle challenges and expanding role of test’, stood out. From Canada, there was an invite to cover Zinc8 Energy Solutions that redefines long-duration energy storage! And, what readership followed! 😉

Display Week 2020.

August saw SEMI, ESD Alliance, and McKinsey present on the future mobility disruptions on semiconductor design ecosystem. There was the IoT World 2020, as well. There was focus on data exchanges as the IoT market continues growth.

Interesting Display Week!
Next came Display Week 2020, thanks to an invite from long-time friend, Sri Peruvemba. This presented an opportunity to interact with the Display Supply Chain Consortium (DSCC). Foldable displays continue to advance! OLEDs are expected to lead from 2019-2024! An interesting session was about the women in technology.

September saw the Embedded Vision Summit 2020, where, I received an invitation, courtesy, Jeff Bier. Next came the SEMI Strategic Materials Conference (SMC) 2020. One presentation talked about silicon photonics and heterogenous integration challenges. SEMI also hosted a conference with Indium Corp., titled: What’s driving automotive electronics assembly and packaging? The IFA 2020 Berlin went virtual too!

Malcolm Penn, Future Horizons, UK, has predicted that the global semiconductor industry should grow 12 percent in 2021. Yole Developpement had a session on the NAND flash memory business. The Cadence Live 2020 event also went virtual for the first time.

Next came SEMI Global Smart Manufacturing Conference 2020. One standout presentation was on Predict and prevent automotive semiconductor zero defect enablement. In October, the future potential of 5G was unlocked at the GSMA Thrive North America 2020. There was Indian PM Narendra Modi at India Energy Forum by CERAWeek.

Dr. Wally Rhines.

The Chinese American Semiconductor Professional Association (CASPA) organized its annual conference: Next Wave of Semiconductor Innovation, in the USA, last October, where Dr. Walden (Wally) Rhines presented the keynote.

For those keen, fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) has long been described as transformative for cloud security. The algorithm was developed to enable computing on encrypted data sets, keeping the underlying data secure. It is a game-changer in cloud computing. I had to be awake till 4am for this, and am grateful for a wonderful presentation. 😉

Next, BNEF London 2020 summit called for green recovery. This was followed by the SEMI and MATRADE session on the global semiconductor market. There was the 9th Americas Spectrum Management Conference, as well. SEMI organized the MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress (MSEC 2020). A standout report was tinyML, and the massive opportunity when MI meets real world of billions of sensors.

I also had the pleasure of covering Dr. Roslyn Layton, Co-founder, China Tech Threat, on the report: US tightens controls on exports to SMIC, China! Is there a way out? Again, all of these events were in October. I really had a tough time covering all! 😉

In November, there was the Intel FPGA Technology Day 2020, as well as Xilnx’s Xilinx Adapt: 5G event. The 5GAA organized a conference on CV2X in Europe. Yole Développement and Teledyne had a session on glass and silicon bioMEMS components for medical devices. Yole and Chip Integration Technology Center (CITC), the Netherlands, also hosted an event on power and RF packaging. There was the Siemens AG Digital Enterprise SPS Dialog event, as well.

I was pleasantly surprised on receiving an invite from the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) to participate in their 22nd Ministerial Meeting. Since GECF does not feature India, I was curious. So, I attended, and covered! 😉

SIA sets 2030 goals.

Next, Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) examined China’s semiconductor self-sufficiency, in November. There was the IoT TechEx North America 2020, as well. Global Semiconductor and Electronics Forum 2020, presented many more opportunities to network.

Decadal plans
December, the last month of 2020, began with SEMI, USA, webinar on market data resources and equipment materials outlook for 2021. Next, Semiconductor Industry Association had a session on decadal plan for semiconductors setting 2030 goals.

Yole Développement and System Plus Consulting hosted the session on how 3D packaging was breaking new ground. Semiconductor Industry Association had another webinar on how semiconductors were driving automotives. These were followed by the 4th CIS & CEE Spectrum Management Conference, which I could not cover properly enough. This was largely due to the unfamiliar Russian dialect! There was also the RISC-V summit. Finally, my niece, Ms. Shelley Bhattacharjee, got married (see image). 🙂 We had to fly to Bangalore, followed by the mandatory quarantine, on return.

Shelley’s marriage.

Whew! That’s quite a list, and tremendous coverage! 2020 has been a year full of semiconductors. My blog has seen growing number of readers this past year. The global semiconductor industry also continued its unrelenting march, despite a very tough year gone by.

Bangalore trip
During the trip to Bangalore, the sight at the airport was amazing. Long queues for entry, preferably, mobile check-ins, and air hostesses wore PPE kits, etc. Some middle-seat passengers were in PPE kits. We all had to wear masks and head gear. In Bangalore, most of my friends did not even turn up to meet me, after promising. I understand their plight! Those who did, were grateful and thankful. As was I! Everyone lamented the plight that we all were in. They wanted the pandemic to disappear and things getting back to normal. One hopes that does happen this year.

On a personal note, virtual events are good, and probably, here to stay. However, they do not always bring the right audience, and of course, the speakers were missing the applauses. There were no master of ceremonies in many cases. In some cases, there was poor connectivity. Nevertheless, everyone provided post-event recordings. While you get to hear the very best about the latest in technology, there were hardly any demonstrations. Of course, there were the various, different background noises, in some cases, of babies crying, children and various partners screaming, and whistles of the pressure cooker. But then, this is a pandemic. Everyone is working from home! No one was ready for this situation!!

On the other side, literally driven to the corners, the world has found new resilience and adaptability. Thanks to WFH, there is now more family time. Friends long lost, have re-appeared. For me, especially, some industry events, earlier unthinkable, were easily available. Simply because: I put out their story first! 😉

There were some other events related to Industry 4.0, as well, on telecom and solar/PV. Rockwell Automation had its annual conference. As did Siemens! In telecom, there was the GSMA Thrive North America 2020 and the 9th Americas Spectrum Management Conference. Intel and IoT Solutions Alliance presented the telemetry and video analytics for Industry 4.0.

Dr. Wally Rhines featured by way of EDA adoption by IT companies. DVClub Europe (Design & Verification Club) looked at IP integration into complex SoCs. For electronic components, OTI’s ConducTorr CPM materials are now compatible with all OLED display manufacturing! Mention also needs to be made of IoT World 2020.

What’s next?
Already, there are multiple invites to cover conferences all over the world in 2021! There are semiconductors, along with Industry 4.0, medical electronics, telecom, etc. My first stop in the new year will be the Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) 2021, organized by SEMI, USA.

Next, there is the PMWC 2021, at Silicon Valley, USA. The event will honor Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House coronavirus task force member. He has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. There is a possibility of meeting him too! Let’s see how it all goes! There is also the Technology Unites by SEMI, later.

As one wise man said, true unity begins at all of our homes, with our respective families. Let us all hope and pray for a safer, better, and healthier 2021, and beyond. It is time to pat yourselves on the back. Rise, and shine! Stay safe, and prosper, dear friends!!

Glass and silicon bioMEMS components heart of tomorrow’s medical devices

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Yole Développement and Teledyne organized a meeting on glass and silicon bioMEMS components. They looked at how these are the heart of tomorrow’s medical devices.

Opening the discussion, Sébastien Clerc, Technology & Market Analyst, Microfluidics, Sensing & Actuating, Yole Développement, said that there is prevalence and cost of chronic diseases. There are diseases such as sleep apnea, diabetes, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, cardiovascular events, etc. However, possible solutions do exist.

Sebastian Clerc.

There are many examples of bioMEMS-enabled systems. MEMS, and other sensors and actuators are used in many medical devices, either implantable, wearable, or external. There is need for more compact and comfortable systems. There can be mainstream vital sign monitoring, new monitoring systems, pacemakers, etc.

Micro-technologies are everywhere in healthcare apps. There are microfluidics, imaging devices, bioMEMS and biosensors. Microfluidics market is estimated to grow to $5.3 billion by 2025, from $2.7 billion in 2019. Imaging devices will grow from $4.3 billion in 2019 to $6.6 billion in 2025. BioMEMS and biosensors will grow from $4.9 billion in 2019 to $9.6 billion in 2025. BioMEMS market dynamics include use of microfluidics, silicon microphones, optical MEMS, etc.

Next-gen DNA sequencing is leveraging glass and silicon technologies. In 5-10 years, there will be DNA sequencing for less than $100. Silicon and glass for microfluidics are estimated to be huge. The supply chain for bioMEMS and microfluidic fabs is growing. In glass, there is Caliper, Schott, Philips, Invenios, etc. In silicon, there is XFab, Sensera, TSMC, Teledyne Dalsa, STMicroelectronics, etc. In polymer, there is ChipShop, Carville, Axxicon, Hochuan, Weidmann, etc.

MEMS platforms are accelerating the time-to-market. MEMS foundries are key partners to reduce the TTM and reach medical-grade devices.

Glass and silicon bioMEMS
Collin Twanow, Director of Technology, Teledyne MEMS, spoke about glass and silicon bioMEMS. He said that there is diverse need for medical monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment. There is the evolving demographics. There is the acceptance of technology advancements by doctors, regulatory bodies, and patients. There is continuing advancement and introduction of MEMS and microfabrication in this field.

Teledyne MEMS foundry services is no. 1 independent pure-play MEMS foundry. It has the largest portfolio of microfabrication technologies available in the world (non-captive). There are hundreds of unique prototypes built, and technologies for all sensor types and markets.

Collin Twanow.

Teledyne has 150 mm and 200 mm wafer diameter production lines. Teledyne offers all the advanced processes and fabrication equipment. These include DRIE, metal disposition by sputter and evaporation, glass/quartz wet etching, RIE plasma etching, Si anisotropic wet etching – KOH, and TMAH, test and automatic optical inspection (AOI), back-end process, bonding, etc.

Teledyne bioMEMS fabrication includes platinum gold and other metals, CMOS post processing, patterned polyimide, silicon glass and other substrates. The apps served include diagnostics, cell treatment, drug development, antibody ID, disease testing, genetic analysis, etc.

MEMS and microfabrication for biotech includes silicon and glass microfluidics, CMOS post processing, thin-film bioassay substrates, CMUT arrays for medical imaging, other bioMEMS devices, and other medical device considerations.

In MicraFluidics, the silicon microfluidic process platform, there are features such as high-aspect ratio microchannels in silicon wafer, input/output ports in glass, consistent inorganic surfaces, suitable for functionalized coatings, and customer specified chip size.

The process includes pattern customized through-wafer ports in glass wafer, pattern microfluidic channels in silicon substrate with precise high-aspect ratio anisotropic etching, and glass and silicon wafer bonding providing a strong and reliable bond interface.

In CMOS post processing, there is integrated MEMS and CMOS electronics, extensive and flexible CMOS post-processing capabilities are available for next generation, integrated biochips, expertise to handle advanced CMOS wafers from multiple CMOS foundries for post processing using fully-compatible lithography tools, expertise to work with different polymers for microchannels and microfluidic wells definition, capability to deposit thin metal and dielectric layers for integrated electrical detection, and polymer wafer bonding, with microfluidic features, and CMP. Bioassay apps include consumable test chips, DNA capture and analysis, and genetic testing.

Capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) MEMS platform is the emerging transducer / receiver technology for medical imaging and treatment. The CMUT technology offers many potential advantages over traditional linear array piezoelectric transducer technology, including, advantages of wafer fabrication scale, 2D arrays offer higher resolution waveform shaping, greater sensitivity, superior acoustic impedance matching, potential to co-integrate with electronics, and SOI Layer that provides consistency of single crystal silicon for top electrode.

Teledyne’s phase-gate system ensures thoroughness in path to manufacturing. It provides a rapid, reliable path to high yield production. Design for manufacturing involves designing into an established process capability, and ensuring the expected process variation does not lead to product variation. Benefits include first-run prototype success, faster to manufacturing, stable yield and performance, and lower costs.

Teledyne MEMS is the world’s largest pure-play MEMS foundry. It has extensive experience in microfluidics and bioMEMS, with biocompatible materials. The foundry is structured for prototype development and large-volume commercial manufacturing for the medical industry.

Next decade will be remembered for artificial empathy: MSEC 2020

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The final discussion at the ongoing SEMI MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress (MSEC 2020) looked at next decade of MEMS, and the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Now, 2020 has been a challenging year in many aspects. The consequences of the pandemic are expected to further impact the upcoming years, possibly even decade. The MEMS industry is also experiencing multiple challenges: Development costs for new generations of MEMS sensors are increasing. Wider, diverse markets are now required to compensate the growing development expenses, and to lower the risks. A sole focus on hardware is not sufficient anymore.

Jens Fabrowsky.

Jens Fabrowsky, Executive VP, Automotive Electronics, Robert Bosch GmbH, said that MEMS is a fascinating story of innovation. Their technology pull is mainly app driven. They are prevalent in manufacturing, materials, packaging, and computing. There is significant cost reduction and reliability improvement. Technology areas driving MEMS innovation are 3D MEMS, piezo materials, in-MEMS processing, and heterogenous packaging, etc.

MEMS computing trends are relevant, personalized, and trusted. They are also connected to the end users’ needs. MEMS sensors and actuators are important. Raw and processed data can be filtered and processed. Sensor fusion combines data from multiple sources. We are now beginning to consolidate the data from multiple sources. There is the tactile Internet. By adding sensors, you can also understand emotions to make machines be more helpful. Digital twins are growing. We are briding the physical and digital worlds, to have the phygital experience.

We are building brain-level AI at Bosch. Self-diagnostics will improve our lives. We are looking at emphatic computing in the future. AR will be engaging, immersive and secure in future. Sensors are able to detect personal signatures too. There is edge AI and ML inside the sensor. Research and training needs to move to new collaboration models in AI. We are improving the accessibility of our products in open source programs.

From artificial strength (AS), we have moved to AI. Later, we will be moving to artificial empathy (AE). The next decade will be remembered for AE.

For developing the industry solutions, there will be a challenge to understand the big systems. We need to overcome those. There are industry-wide efforts going on. You also need to be able to manage data. It is all coming down to edge computing. We need to keep the data private, and not to let it out in the cloud.

Trouble with innovative sensing applications: MSEC 2020

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Individualized digital health monitors benefit wearers with chronic illness or those at risk of acute infectious diseases with rapid onsets. As technology leaders are making vital sign sensors convenient and affordable for mobile and fitness applications, US Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and other healthcare policy makers, have adopted reimbursement policies to encourage remote patient monitoring practices. The global pandemic has only further accelerated these initiatives.

Ian Chen.

Ian Chen, Executive Director, Maxim Integrated, spoke about the trouble with innovative sensing applications, and how to overcome those, at the ongoing MSEC 2020. Today, healthcare is becoming even more personalized. Global shipments of select wearables shipment hit 210 million units in 2019. The market may grow to 340 million units by 2023.

Today, accelerometer data is used in a TPMS to get tyre location, monitoring blood pressure on an ambulatory patient, monitoring body temperature for disease onset detection, and personalized health monitoring. Also all paths of invention need to pass through data collection.

Eg., there is a case for continuous monitoring of cattle health. The industry wants a objective metric for animal wellness. Maxim did cattle monitoring for some time. They need to improve detection via sensor fusion. They also need to improve the motion artifact detection algorithm.

Another example is the case for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remote patient monitoring. COPD is an incurable disease, so there needs to be patient health monitoring, via telehealth. Here, waveform analysis algorithm, and additional sensing modalities are needed.

The call to the sensing community is for accelerating the time-to-data. That’s a must! Only then can we see the potential of the new sensing apps.

Sensory motion tracking and future of human-digital interaction: MSEC 2020

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Day 6 of the ongoing MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress (MSEC 2020) had a set of interesting presentations on market trends. Sensory motion tracking, enabled by smart sensors, is at the forefront of this fourth industrial age. In healthcare, motion tracking is helping people to monitor heart rates, sleep patterns and fitness levels.

Motion tracking technology is opening many possibilities for the entrepreneurs and innovators to transform their own industries. Physical, biological and technological worlds are merging like never before, and the potential of sensory motion capture is only restricted by the extent of our imagination.

Igor Ikink.

Speaking about this, Igor Ikink, Director Technology, Xsens, said that the most immediate use of sensory motion is in entertainment and gaming, sports, clinical, and workplace biomechanics, etc. This has the potential to help companies take work activities to a new level. Sensory motion is captured, tracked, processed, and analyzed. Industry 4.0 is also changing the way we work.

There are advancements in MEMS, in size, pitch, roll, power consumption, and lower costs. Novel post-processing has now become a necessity. There are also a plethora of services available. Wearable technology is becoming the terminology for the digital age. There are thin films being attached to garments. These are smart textiles. So much knowhow is going into shoes. Watches and cells, and eyewear are already becoming smart. Wearables are leading to ubiquitous computing, and help make better decisions faster.

Boundaries are constantly being redrawn today. Biomedical sensors offer exciting opportunities. Wearables are also changing. Technology has also become more scalable. There will be motion tracking-as-a-service, to control database, connecting to the cloud. Healthcare will be very different in 10 years from now. There will be an IoT-connected society. Covid-19 has also accelerated remote patient monitoring.

The post-pandemic world is full of opportunities. An example is the remote health and wellness monitoring, remote sport monitoring, etc. Another example is high-performance rehabilitation. Sensors are key drivers. They are small, cheap, and wearable, in our quest for digitization.