Slideshow: Twelve shakers and movers in MEMS

Slideshow: Twelve shakers and movers in MEMS

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By eeNews Europe

It’s a personal list, in alphabetical order, of the shakers and movers in MEMS but if you feel I have left anyone out that obviously deserves a mention in this company please get in touch with me (

Robert Andosca, co-founder, president and CEO of MicroGen Systems Inc. (Rochester, New York), has been a pioneer of the applications of vibrational MEMS and piezoelectric effect to energy harvesting. Prior to the formation of MicroGen, Andosca spent 20 years developing and introducing a variety of MEMS and integrated circuit devices in executive positions he held with STC MEMS, Lilliputian Systems, Umicore, Corning IntelliSense, Clare Corporation, Lockheed Martin and Irvine Sensors.

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Janusz Bryzek, vice president of MEMS and sensing solutions at Fairchild Semiconductor Inc., received his MSc and PhD degrees from Warsaw Technical University, and has been a serial entrepreneur in the field of MEMS. Bryzek co-founded SenSym, IC Sensors and NovaSensors in the 1980s. He founded Jyve Inc. in March 2009 which operated without bringing products to market and was acquired by Fairchild in November 2010.

Bryzek has also been a visionary in attempting to prepare the worlds of MEMS and sensors for the Internet of Things era with initiatives to stage the first Trillion Sensor Summit held in October 2013 and to prepare a trillion sensor roadmap for the industry.

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Kaigham (Ken) Gabriel is vice president and deputy director of the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group at Google Inc. a position he came to via Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Immediately prior to joining Motorola Gabriel was acting director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which he had rejoined in 2009.

In his previous role Gabriel was the founder, chairman and CTO of Akustica, a semiconductor company that pioneered digital silicon microphones. The company shipped more than 5 million units before being acquired by Robert Bosch in August 2009. During his time with Akustica Gabriel was also the co-founding executive director of the MEMS Industry Group, the principal trade organization representing the MEMS industry globally.

Gabriel had also worked at DARPA from 1992 to 1997 having been recruited to start the Agency’s microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) program.

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Larry Hornbeck, is a TI Fellow and was the inventor and lead developer of an optical based MEMS applications at Texas Instruments in the 1980s and 1990s: the digital micromirror device (DMD). Hornbeck’s combination of digitally addressible CMOS overlaid with an array of micromirrors that could be deflected rapidly to act as gray-scale shutter has revolutionized projection displays from cinema screens down to conference room and home entertainment systems.

Hornbeck has received numerous honors including an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the David Sarnoff Medal Aware from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

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Andrea Urban (nee Schilp) and Franz Laermer

Bosch researchers Franz Laermer and Andrea Schilp are the names on the earliest patents from back in 1992 that describe a highly anisotropic plasma etching process that became known as the Bosch process. The process, also known as deep reactive ion etching (DRIE), is now an indespensible part of all MEMS technology. The Bosch process allows the creation of deep structures with vertical walls in silicon, suitable for cantilever beams, moving structures for inertial sensors and cavities and channels for microfluidic MEMS. Importantly the process allows these highly complex structures to be made at high speed making MEMS production comparatively simple and cost-effective.

The process alternates between standard plasma etch that preferentially attacks the wafer from a vertical direction and a second process that deposits a chemically inert passivation layer. This passivation layer protects the entire wafer but during the etch phase the vertical ions tend to sputter off the layer at the bottom of the etched region rather than at the sides, thereby exposing the substrate to another round of etching.

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Karen Lightman became managing director of the MEMS Industry Group (MIG) trade body in 2007 and was promoted to Executive Director in 2013. Formerly director of special projects, Lightman has played an important role in guiding the development and increasing the significance of MIG since its launch in January 2001

Lightman manages MIG operations including a significant role in selecting and managing content for multiple MEMS-related conferences each year, oversees sales, public relations, marketing and outreach. Lightman joined MIG from Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Economic Development where she was a senior policy analyst.

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Steve Nasiri, founder, investor and mentor at Nasiri Ventures LLC has been a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley for more than 30 years. However, his biggest success has been InvenSense Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) which he led from its founding in 2003 until he left the company in October 2012.

InvenSense was the first fabless chip company to breakthrough in MEMS – with multi-axis motion processing components for consumer electronics – and Nasiri created the so-called Nasiri manufacturing process and delivered it to foundries TSMC and Globalfoundries. This not only allows them to be dual-source suppliers of InvenSense CMOS MEMS components but also opens the process up to other would-be fabless MEMS companies. Nasiri took InvenSense public in 2011.

Prior to founding InvenSense, Nasiri was involved with several MEMS startups including SenSym (acquired by Honeywell), NovaSensor (acquired by General Electric), Integrated Sensor Solutions (acquired by Texas Instruments), ISS-Nagano GmbH, Intelligent Sensing Solutions (acquired by Maxim Integrated), and Transparent Optical Networks.

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Harvey Nathanson, speaking in 1984 at a IEEE Centennial briefing for the media.

Harvey C. Nathanson, is a retired electrical engineer and emeritus member of the governing council of the MEMS Industry Group trade body who is credited as being the inventor of the first microelectromechanical system (MEMS) component.

Nathanson patented the first MEMS device in 1965 while working for Westinghouse Electric Corp. in the R&D Labs. This was a mechanically resonant tuner for microelectronic radios and it was followed within a couple of years by a more refined device, the resonant gate transistor.

Kurt Petersen is a serial entrepreneur who has helped build the MEMS industry. Since 1982 he has co-founded six MEMS companies: Transensory Devices in 1982, NovaSensor in 1985 (now owned by GE), Cepheid in 1996 (now a public company), SiTime in 2004, Profusa in 2008, and Verreon in 2009 (acquired by Qualcomm). He has his own consulting company KP-MEMS.

Between 1975 and 1982 Petersen established a micromachining research group at IBM and wrote an important review paper that was published by the IEEE in 1982: Silicon as a Mechanical Material. In April 2013 Petersen joined the board of directors of Innovative Micro Technology Inc. (Santa Barbara, Calif.) a foundry manufacturer of MEMS components.

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Benedetto Vigna, general manager of the analog, MEMS and sensors group at STMicroelectronics NV, joined the company’s R&D labs in 1995 and launched the company’s efforts in MEMS. Vigna has risen up through the ranks of the company along with its success in selling MEMS components, particularly into the consumer sector.

In 2001 he became director of the MEMS business unit working on accelerometers and gyroscopes as ST made a commitment to the MEMS market. And in 2007 Vigna’s responsibilities were increased to include sensors, RF, analog, mixed-signal, interface and audio ICs.

ST’s MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes have been adopted in motion activated user interfaces used in game consoles, smartphones and tablet computers. In 2012 the company was estimated to be the world’s largest vendor of MEMS components with about $1 billion in annual sales.

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Yang Zhao founder, chairman, president and CEO of Memsic Inc. (Andover, Mass.) Zhao is a physics graduate of Beijing University and received M.Sc and PhD. degrees from Princeton University before going to work for Analog Devices Inc. In the 1990s Zhao served ADI for seven years in a variety of roles developing the company’s MEMS product lines.

In 1999 Zhao founded Memsic to bring to market a novel form of heated-gas accelerometer and use of a CMOS-compatible manufacturing process. The company operates its own back-end manufacturing facility in Wuxi, China, where it works with wafers previously processed at CMOS foundries.

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