ST plans to pivot MEMS expertise into industrial uptake

ST plans to pivot MEMS expertise into industrial uptake

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

ST said it plans to use its expertise developed with consumer MEMS to provide components for advanced industrial applications. A range of industrial sensors will be covered by a 10-year service life commitment.

The IS3DHHC 3-axis low-noise accelerometer, is the first MEMS sensor to be introduced under this initiative and offers inclinometer accuracy. It will be followed by the launch of other industrial MEMS sensors in 2018, the company said.

Although Motorola developed early MEMS pressure sensors in the 1980s the first large scale deployment of MEMS came with their use for accelerometers in automotive air-bag applications in the 1990s. At the same time MEMS actuators found deployment in ink-jet printers.

The second major wave of deployment was the use of accelerometers for inertial applications in smartphones and other consumer goods where they are used for control of screen orientation and dead reckoning and orientation in navigation applications.

It is notable that the smartphone market, now worth billions of units per year, has like the tablet computer market, saturated and the value of the market is tending to decline.

Bosch was one company that was able to benefit from starting in automotive MEMS deployment and then leverage that expertise as it entered into consumer markets. Moving in the other direction, from relatively low-specification consumer MEMS to higher-specification industrial devices may not be so easy. However, it may possible to produce economies of scale through common silicon that is customized for different applications by way of conditioning circuitry, packaging and test.  

Next: Industrial MEMS

The IIS3DHHC targets precision inclinometers in antenna-positioning mechanisms for communication systems, structural health monitoring (SHM) equipment for buildings and bridges safe, and stabilizers and levellers for a variety of industrial platforms.

Its long-term accuracy and robustness make the part suitable for high-sensitivity tilt and security sensors, as well as image stabilization in high-end digital still cameras (DSCs), ST said.

ST’s industrial application commitment and 10-year life guarantee is also applied to STM32 microcontrollers, motor drivers, analog components, power converters, LEDs, and existing MEMS sensors that will be supported for at least 10 years.

“These high-quality industrial sensors leverage our investments in MEMS design and high-yield fabrication processes to deliver superior performance with low ownership costs for applications where the highest precision, repeatability, and robustness are critical,” said Andrea Onetti, general manager of the MEMS sensors division at ST, in a statement.

“We will continue to introduce new types of precision sensors for industrial applications in the coming months, covered by our 10-year longevity commitment, including combination sensors, specialized sensors, and complete inertial modules.”

The IIS3DHHC is in production now, in a 16-lead 5mm by 5mm by 1.7mm ceramic LGA package, priced from $4.50 for orders of 1000 pieces.

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