Collaboration Streamlines MEMS Development

November 3, 2011

Silex Microsystems and AMFitzgerald have reduced MEMS development time by 50%, enabling fast commercialization of designs through the Sil-Via Platform.

JARFALLA, Sweden and BURLINGAME, CA /PRNewswire/ -- Silex Microsystems, the "world's largest pure-play MEMS foundry," and A.M. Fitzgerald & Associates (AMFitzgerald), a MEMS product development firm, announced they have successfully reduced the traditional development time of MEMS devices for medical and biotech applications by six months. These results are based on a multi-year collaboration that combined Silex's decades of MEMS engineering experience and the Silex Sil-Via platform with AMFitzgerald's advanced MEMS prototyping and design capabilities.

To achieve their development milestones, Silex provided AMFitzgerald with access to its leading Sil-Via technology platform early in the development process. The Silex Sil-Via platform has a proven history of volume production and uses the latest through-silicon vias (TSV) packaging technology, which enables smaller form factors, lowers cost, and allows customers to add increased functionality to their MEMS devices. This ground-up approach and close collaboration resulted in the rapid completion of several MEMS designs now ready to go into volume production in Silex's advanced 6 in. and 8 in. fabrication facilities. According to both companies, these types of MEMS projects typically take one year or longer to complete, versus the six months that was achieved by Silex and AMFitzgerald.

"Through our well-established partnership with AMFitzgerald, we can enable the rapid development and commercialization of MEMS products, which are quickly finding high-volume applications in many markets," said Peter Himes, Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Alliances for Silex Microsystems. "This announcement furthers our goal of developing a partner ecosystem that can accelerate customers' time to market, and also validates the strength of our Sil-Via technology platform as a basis for high-volume, low-cost, small form factor, and low-risk MEMS designs."

"Silex's willingness to make proven, standardized process modules accessible to developers like ourselves is exactly what is needed in the industry to reduce time-to-market and to drive the high-volume commercialization of new MEMS technologies," said Dr. Alissa M. Fitzgerald, founder and managing member of AMFitzgerald. "Our unique approach of integrating Silex's standard TSV and wafer-level packaging technologies in the very first prototypes means that risks and uncertainties are identified and addressed early, instead of being revealed during foundry transfer and ramp-up. Our ability to do design-for-manufacture not only delivers significant time and cost advantages early on, but also enables us to make adjustments very quickly to meet the customers' needs and requirements throughout the design process."

The Rapidly Expanding Bio-MEMS Market
Customers who integrate the packaging solution at the prototype stage will be able to move faster and with more confidence into volume production. This is a critical process in the bio-technology and medical markets that are expected to increasingly use MEMS devices. According to the April 2011 Yole Development MEMS report, this market is expected to grow 24% annually, from $1.75 billion in 2011 to over $5 billion in 2016.

Applications that can benefit significantly from the Silex/AMFitzgerald partnership include any array-based sensor, such as imaging or diagnostic arrays that require high-density IO and small form factors, applications where the Sil-Via TSV provides the most benefit. In addition to BioMEMS, other applications such as motion sensors, optical sensors, oscillators, and pressure sensors can also benefit.

About the Silex Sil-Via Platform
Silex has spent over 10 years developing an advanced MEMS platform that leverages the company's deep engineering expertise and insights, gained from working with many customers on more than 300 successful MEMS projects and 50 BioMEMS programs. This platform known as Silex Sil-Via is a proprietary technology for TSV interconnects, which is a key technology for high-density IO that enables smaller form factors and increased functionality in MEMS devices. The Silex Sil-Via platform is a full-wafer thickness via comprised of a DRIE-etched post surrounded by an isolating material. The resulting interconnect is low impedance, mechanically robust, and avoids the thermal mismatch of metal-based via technologies. The Silex Sil-Via platform can be implemented as an integral part of MEMS processing or used at the wafer-level packaging level. The Silex Sil-Via platform went into production in 2006 for mobile applications, and it has been in continual high-volume production for more than five years. Silex Sil-Via has been used successfully on over 100 products, and is now available through AMFitzgerald.

About Silex
Silex Microsystems is the "world's largest pure-play MEMS foundry." It services the advanced MEMS and heterogeneous packaging needs of the world's leading companies. With production operations totaling 25,000 sq. ft., with dedicated lines for both 6 in. and 8 in. wafers, Silex has successfully completed over 300 MEMS programs, with over 100 corporate customers, including 12 of the world's top 30 MEMS companies. Silex Sil-Via has provided advanced TSV solutions in production for over 5 years. Silex's core technologies enable some of the world's brightest innovations.

About A.M. Fitzgerald & Associates
AMFitzgerald, located near Silicon Valley in Burlingame, CA, offers customers the complete solution for MEMS product development. Full-service engineering capabilities include custom device design, MEMS prototyping and process development, multi-physics finite element modeling, foundry transfer, production support, and technology strategy consulting. AMFitzgerald's team of experienced MEMS engineers provides the essential pre-foundry work to minimize the risk, cost, and time of new MEMS development. AMFitzgerald is a member of MEMS Industry Group.

Silex, Silex Microsystems, Sil-Via and related logos are registered trademarks of Silex Microsystems. All other product or service names are the property of their respective owners. Copyright Silex Microsystems, 2011.

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