Contents - September 2005
Welcome to the September Edition of Newslyne, Micralyne's quarterly e-newsletter.
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Micralyne recently attended the COMS (Commercialization of Micro and Nano Systems) 2005 tradeshow in Germany and one of our Vice Presidents, Bruce Alton, gave a talk that looked at the MEMS industry today and how things have changed over the past five years.
Having attended the past five COMS conferences, we have observed a lot of change in the industry over the years. At COMS 2001 in Oxford, much of the talk focused on the success of optical components companies in raising a significant amount of venture capital (yet very little of that translated into new products on the market). 2002 served as the start of a down period for microsystems suppliers and at COMS 2002 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, it was announced that a large supplier, Standard MEMS, had gone of out business. This was repeated again at COMS 2003 in Amsterdam when the talk was of the closure of the Corning Intellisense foundry. At COMS 2004, here in Edmonton, no closures were announced but a few months after the conference, Colibrys announced it was acquiring Applied MEMS. This underscored the consolidation taking place and is a natural evolution for an industry in a state of transition.
At COMS 2005, Bruce highlighted that Micralyne is experiencing a period of rapid growth in revenues along with increased hiring, enhanced capital expenditures and the addition of extra work shifts in our plant. This is resulting from a number of our customers going through a ramp to volume manufacturing due to significant orders from their end-users. Bruce then posed the question of whether or not Micralyne’s recent growth is indicative of an industry-wide resurgence of MEMS product development and market penetration.
The jury is still undecided but at Micralyne we are experiencing broad and sustained market demand, not only for us but also for other MEMS suppliers. We believe this will continue for at least the next couple of years. I was personally pleased to hear that Bruce was presented with the “Best Submitted Paper Award” for the conference, good evidence to me that we have some of the best employees in the field. In the coming months, we will be looking closely at our customers, competitors, and suppliers to assess what is next for the MEMS industry.
Also of note is a recent partnership Micralyne has formed with Cascade Microtech, who is launching a new line of electrical and fluidic connections for microfluidic research applications. Cascade is taking its extensive experience in the semiconductor equipment industry and applying it to the life sciences field. Micralyne is providing its High Voltage Power Supply (a key part of our Microfluidic Tool Kit™) as part of the Cascade “Microfluidic L-Series Solution” which will be available through both Micralyne and Cascade. For more information on this partnership please click here.
As always, please feel free to contact me at 780-431-4414 or email me at email@example.com if you have any questions or comments.
- Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne Inc. -
MicragemTM - Standardized MEMS
As a full-service MEMS foundry, Micralyne is examining ways of improving MEMS product development. One key issue companies are facing is time-to-market how long it takes to move a MEMS-based product from an idea to generating revenues.
Developing a product based on Micragem™ reduces time-to-market by taking advantage of Micralyne’s existing processing capabilities.
Micragem™ is an SOI-based MEMS fabrication process with a set of design and process guidelines that can be used by companies to manufacture a number of different types of MEMS components in a standardized fashion.
An emerging technology in the fabrication of MEMS devices is silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrates. SOI technology was originally developed to avoid charge leakage in pn junctions, but due to the robustness of the single crystal device layer as a structural material for silicon microstructures SOI substrates are attractive to MEMS applications. Micralyne developed Micragem™ as a standard process on SOI that is simple, versatile, and mature.
At the basic level, Micragem™ is a four-mask lithography process. Depending on the level of customization required, more layers could be added to increase versatility. The four-mask basic process remains quite powerful. The starting point is a 500 µm thick glass wafer. Mask 1 is used to pattern the glass for the first etch. This etch can be used to define cavities, gaps, microfluidic channels, grooves for electrode lines, etc. The glass is etched isotropically using a wet etch up to a maximum depth of 100 µm.
The substrate is then lithographically patterned with Mask 2 for metallization. This mask is used to define actuation electrodes, metal lines, and bonding pads. The deposited metal is typically gold, however other metals can be used. An SOI wafer is anodically bonded device side down, to the patterned side of the glass wafer. The thickness of the SOI wafer generally varies from 10-100µm, depending on the designer’s requirements.
The handle and buried oxide portions of the wafer are etched away in a wet process, leaving a single crystal silicon membrane over the entire glass surface. Micralyne’s proprietary low stress gold is deposited on the silicon surface, and lithographically patterned with Mask 3. The metal is then etched to expose the silicon using a wet etch process.
Next, Mask 4 is used for the final etch in the DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etch) tool, where the structures are released in a dry plasma, eliminating stiction problems. In the end we are left with a reliable, robust, and manufacturable MEMS device.
The potential of this process technology in the MEMS field is substantial. The process is well suited to manufacture miniaturized micro-mirrors, diaphragms, beams and valves for a variety of applications. For a visual representation of the Micragem™ process please click here.
Micralyne has generated millions of dollars of revenue based on the Micragem™ platform and will be formally launching Micragem™ to the greater commercial market in the coming months. If you would like to receive further information about this standard MEMS process, please contact Micralyne at (780) 431-4400 or by email.
Micralyne Expands Employee Base and Continues Hiring
As of today, we have added over 20 new staff members in the last four months. This rapid pace of hiring is expected to continue as our manufacturing group seeks additional operators and technicians to fulfill current demand. The substantial growth in staff is primarily attributed to our customers in the communications field who are experiencing a significant upsurge in volumes. In addition to current orders, forecasts are indicating future increases on a continual basis. This has resulted in adding an additional shift of operation to our Edmonton microfabrication facility. If you or someone you know is interested in joining our dynamic team, please visit the careers section on our website.
Micralyne and Cascade Microtech Unveil New L-Series Microfluidic Products
In partnership with Cascade Microtech, Micralyne recently unveiled the L-Series microfluidic product line from Cascade Microtech at the ICMENS conference in Banff, Alberta July 24-27th. The L-Series comprises powerful new microfluidic interface, micro-positioning and microscope products and includes Micralyne's Programmable HV Power Supply and microfluidic chips.
::Read Full Release
A True MEMS Manufacturer
There is something different about Micralyne when compared to the majority of other independent MEMS foundries Micralyne has become a “true” MEMS manufacturer. The majority of Micralyne’s revenue is generated from long-term customer supply agreements based on shipping tested, packaged, and assembled MEMS components on an ongoing basis. This is a rarity for an independent MEMS foundry.
::Read Full Report from Yole Développement (July 2005)
Micralyne Vice President Wins Best Submitted Paper Award at COMS 2005
Micralyne is pleased to announce that Bruce Alton, Vice President Marketing and Business Development, has received the award for the best paper submitted at the 10th International Conference on the Commercialization of Micro and Nano Systems ("COMS 2005") conference in Baden-Baden, Germany.
::Read Full Release
Labs Climb onto Nanochips
Most microfluidic-chip makers supply some sort of development system to help bioengineers harness the fluidic concepts in their designs. For instance, the microfluidic tool kit from Micralyne Inc. (Edmonton, Alberta) provides fixed electrodes that work with the company's microfluidic chips.
::Read Full Release
Additional Reading & MEMS Industry Resources
Some additional reading that might be of interest to you in regard to Micralyne or the small tech industry is:
MEMS Investor Journal - Read Chris Lumb's interview about his perspective on the main challenges with fabrication of MEMS devices today.
MEMS Executive Congress - The MEMS Industry Group hosted a one day, executive-level event on September 20, 2005. The event focused on the business of MEMS and connecting end users with integrators.
METRIC 2005 - Industry leaders gathered at the METRIC 2005 conference on September 21-22, 2005, in Pittsburgh. This conference focused on critical scientific and technical challenges to the commercialization of MEMS.
MEMS & BIOMEMS 2005 - Micralyne will be attending this annual event on November 8-9, 2005. The event is aimed at an in-depth idea exchange between the established MEMS industry and commercialization infrastructure looking for its expansion to new segments of the MEMS marketplace.
tinytechjobs.com - tinytechjobs is a unique career website devoted to jobs at the convergence of nano/micro-technology, biotechnology, and information technology.