With the advent of the intelligent era, MEMS has ushered in a period of rapid growth. The rise of smart phones and tablets has doubled MEMS shipments. In the ascendant, wearable devices and medical electronics have sprung up in 2014, which will continue to promote the rapid growth of MEMS. According to yole development, the global MEMS market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12% from 2012 to 2018, and the market scale will reach US $22 billion in 2018. In the medium and long term, the rise of the Internet of things will open the blue ocean of MEMS applications.

With the advent of the intelligent era, MEMS has ushered in a period of rapid growth. The rise of smart phones and tablets has doubled MEMS shipments. In the ascendant, wearable devices and medical electronics have sprung up in 2014, which will continue to promote the rapid growth of MEMS. According to yole development, the global MEMS market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12% from 2012 to 2018, and the market scale will reach US $22 billion in 2018. In the medium and long term, the rise of the Internet of things will open the blue ocean of MEMS applications.

Introduction to MEMS sensors

MEMS (micro electro mechanical system) refers to a micro electromechanical system integrating micro sensors, actuators, signal processing and control circuits, interface circuits, communication and power supply. In short, its working principle is that signals such as physical, chemical and biological input of external environment are converted into electrical signals through micro sensors, After signal processing (analog signal or digital signal), the micro actuator performs the action to achieve the function of “interaction” with the external environment.

Analysis of a new semiconductor technology for MEMS sensors

MEMS industry characteristics

A. High technical barriers

MEMS technology is an interdisciplinary frontier technology, which involves almost all fields of natural science, such as electronic technology, physics, machinery and so on. MEMS devices need to achieve micron scale. Under this scale, many macro physical laws will no longer apply, many theories will develop and change, and it is difficult to develop. Secondly, the devices need to be processed at the micron level, which also puts forward high requirements for processing technology, equipment and environment. These determine that MEMS technology has the characteristics of great technical barriers.

B. High development cost

The development of MEMS products requires high-precision micro nano processing equipment, most of which are expensive. For example, the price of a basic ASML lithography machine is as high as one million. Secondly, the consumables used in the processing process are also very expensive, such as photoresist, developer, high-purity silicon wafer, etc. Moreover, MEMS product design micro nano processing technology also has high threshold requirements for R & D personnel, which requires high-level and sophisticated talents to be competent.

C. Long development cycle

High technical barriers and high superimposed costs lead to a long development cycle of new products. In the 1960s, the commercialization time of pressure sensors was 21 years. Most emerging MEMS companies are fabless start-ups, and they rely on global MEMS OEM capacity. As the market target is a fast and large consumer market, for those emerging MEMS start-ups, they hope that the OEM can provide them with convenient process transfer, rapid yield improvement and complete solutions (from front-end to packaging). However, this OEM mechanism will further lengthen the R & D process, because the product design and production are separated, and each newly modified design cannot be verified immediately. The intermediate time delay eventually leads to the long-term R & D of the whole product.

D. High market concentration

At present, the production capacity is mainly concentrated in Europe, America and other developed countries. According to statistics, in 2012, the world’s top 20 suppliers accounted for 77% of the market share. In the field of smart phones and tablets, the top five MEMS manufacturers accounted for 73% of the market share.


MEMS industry chain

The MEMS industry chain is similar to the traditional semiconductor industry, which mainly includes four parts: front-end design failure, manufacturing and downstream application.

(1) MEMS industry chain division:

Analysis of a new semiconductor technology for MEMS sensors

The top ten MEMS manufacturers in the world mainly include Bosch, Italy France semiconductor, HP, Texas Instruments, Canon, invensense, Avago and qorvo, Lou electronics, Panasonic, etc. Most of the major manufacturers in MEMS industry focus on design, such as Lou’s, HP, Canon, etc. However, some manufacturers will vertically participate in all links of the whole industrial chain. For example, Bosch and St have their own wafer OEM production lines.

(2) Design link

As one of the core thresholds of MEMS, domestic companies invest actively in semiconductor design because of its asset light characteristics and its core threshold. There are many well-known fabless in China, such as Hisilicon, Spreadtrum, RDA, Quanzhi technology, national technology, Lanqi technology, etc.

The fabless scale of domestic MEMS industry is relatively small, but there is a lot of room for development in terms of market scale. Facing the huge domestic consumer electronics market, self-produced and self sold to meet the needs of some medium and low-end markets in China is also a shortcut for domestic fabless companies. For example, Suzhou Minxin recently announced that the shipment of MEMS sensors exceeded 100 million. Their micro silicon microphone sensor products have penetrated into various subdivided applications dominated by consumer electronic products and have been successfully applied to the products of Sony, ASUS, Lenovo, Meizu, Xiaomi and other brand customers.

(3) Manufacturing link

The manufacturing process of MEMS mainly includes production, packaging and testing. China’s MEMS industry started gradually after 2009. There is a significant gap between domestic MEMS manufacturers and foreign countries in business scale, technical level, product structure and industrial environment. At present, the products of domestic MEMS manufacturers are still concentrated in the middle and low-end market, such as accelerometers, pressure sensors and other traditional fields, but for new products (such as biosensors, chemical sensors Gyroscope) is not much involved. The local MEMS industry obviously lags behind the international level. At the same time, there is a huge market demand in China, which leads to the serious dependence on imports in the domestic market. The market share is basically monopolized by large international companies such as Bosch, St, ADI, Honeywell, Infineon and AKM. The import proportion of medium and high-end MEMS sensors is up to 80%, and the import proportion of sensor chips is up to 90%.

Foundry manufacturing

Due to the need for simplified technology and expensive equipment, the production process is generally completed by the wafer factory. Domestic MEMS foundries are mainly China Resources Shanghua, SMIC international and Shanghai advanced. Although the hardware conditions are similar to the international level, the development capacity is far lower than that of overseas foundries; Chinese MEMS OEM enterprises have not accumulated enough process technology reserves and experience of large-scale market verification feedback. The consistency and repeatability of processing technology can not meet the design needs, and the yield and reliability of products can not meet the requirements of large-scale production. Therefore, local design companies in the commercialization stage are more willing to cooperate with overseas mature OEM factories such as TSMC, x-fab and silex. Therefore, overseas OEM plants still occupy most of the OEM business. The weak OEM link leads to the failure of good design to be quickly commercialized and put into the market, which greatly restricts the development of China’s MEMS industry. Manufacturers with process experience and high-end technology are urgently needed to fill the depression in the middle reaches of the industry.

Packaging and testing

Packaging and testing are also the core of MEMS manufacturing, and there are different processes due to the different uses of MEMS devices. For example, there is a distinction between waterproof and non waterproof silicon microphone, and optical blood oxygen concentration sensor needs perforation and cavity lens. However, because MEMS devices have the characteristics of high customization, process control and special materials, packaging and testing account for at least 60% of the whole cost.

Analysis of a new semiconductor technology for MEMS sensors

In order to effectively reduce costs under the increasingly severe downward trend of product prices, most non wafer or light wafer MEMS suppliers outsource the packaging and testing links to professional packaging and testing manufacturers, which will also bring opportunities to MEMS device packaging and testing manufacturers.

(4) Downstream application

Compared with traditional IC, MEMS devices have the advantages of small volume, light weight, low power consumption, high sensitivity, low price and easy mass production. Therefore, MEMS devices are widely used in automotive, consumer electronics, medical electronics, aerospace and industry. Among them, consumer electronics, automotive electronics and medical electronics are the three main application fields.

Consumer electronics

MEMS gives electronic products a unique human-computer interaction experience, making electronic products more entertaining and intelligent. It is widely used in computer products such as inkjet printheads, projectors and notebooks, communication products such as smart phones, and consumer electronics such as MP3, MP4, game consoles and microphones.

In recent years, the popularity of smart phones and tablets has also greatly boosted the sales of MEMS sensors. At present, an average of 12 MEMS chips such as accelerometer, gyroscope, electronic compass, pressure sensor and silicon microphone need to be used in a smart phone. In the future, with the development of technology, more MEMS chips such as pressure sensor, temperature and humidity sensor and RF sensor are also infiltrating into smart terminals. It is expected that in the near future, Each smartphone will use more than 20 MEMS chips. Secondly, according to the statistics of yole, a market research organization, the MEMS market in mobile phones and tablets increased by 19% to US $2.2 billion in 2012, and is expected to increase to US $6.4 billion in 2018, with a compound annual growth rate of 18.5%.

Secondly, MEMS sensors also have great growth potential in the wearable device market. Under the background of high penetration of smart phones, tablets and laptops, intensified competition in the industrial chain and declining profits, international electronics giants targeted the wearable market. Samsung took the lead in launching the smart watch Galaxy gear among major international manufacturers. Later, Gaotong also showed its smart watch top, apple Iwatch and Google glass, Wearable market starts quickly.

Medical Electronics

With the aging of the global population and people’s increasing attention to health, the field of medical electronics has developed rapidly in recent years. In vitro diagnosis and miniaturization of medical equipment have become a trend, and have entered a period of rapid growth. MEMS is widely used in biological and medical electronic products, such as biopharmaceuticals, pH capsules, cardiac pacemakers, precision surgical instruments, medical machines, intelligent prosthetics, blood glucose meters, digital sphygmomanometers, blood gas analyzers, etc. According to the survey of yole development in France, the global bio MEMS market is expected to triple in the next few years, from US $1.9 billion in 2012 to US $6.6 billion in 2018.

Analysis of a new semiconductor technology for MEMS sensors

Automotive electronics

Automotive electronics is one of the main application markets of MEMS. At this stage, the application direction and market demand of MEMS sensors include vehicle anti lock system (ABS), electronic body stability program (ESP), electronically controlled suspension (ECS), electric hand brake (EPB), slope start assist (has), tire pressure monitoring (EPMS), engine anti shake, vehicle inclination measurement and in vehicle heartbeat detection. Among them, the electronic body stability program ESP has been highly concerned by many MEMS manufacturers. Because its active anti-skid function requires more sensors and advanced processing systems, it will drive the demand of traditional application market of automotive electronic MEMS. At present, each vehicle adopts 50 to hundreds of MEMS sensors, mainly pressure sensors, acceleration sensors, gyroscopes and flow sensors, accounting for 99% of the automotive MEMS system. In the future, with the further intellectualization of vehicles, the demand for MEMS sensors will be further increased.

Analysis of a new semiconductor technology for MEMS sensors

Internet of things becomes the next tuyere

Internet of things refers to connecting radio frequency identification devices, infrared sensors, global positioning system, laser scanners and other devices with the Internet to realize intelligent identification and management. Specifically, sensors are embedded and equipped in power grids, railways, highways, buildings, water supply systems, oil and gas pipelines, and then the “Internet of things” is integrated with the existing Internet to realize the integration of human society and physical systems. Among them, the role of MEMS is to make “inanimate and thoughtless” objects respond appropriately to environmental changes and realize the process of “sensing + execution”. In the future, MEMS chips will integrate subsystems such as audio, light, chemical analysis, pressure and temperature sensing, and develop chips with sensory functions such as human eyes, nose, ears and skin; If the induction and control ability of electromagnetic and electric power is added, it will give goods a certain “vitality and thought” and make the realization of the Internet of things possible.

Analysis of a new semiconductor technology for MEMS sensors

Market opportunities

The field of packaging and testing will usher in great development: the MEMS industry chain can be roughly divided into design, manufacturing, packaging and testing, scheme and system application. MEMS packaging and testing technology is more complex than integrated circuits. In the whole industrial chain, the cost of packaging and testing accounts for more than 35% – 60%. We believe that the field of MEMS packaging and testing will develop rapidly and obtain the largest share of the value of the industrial chain. Therefore, the growth of enterprises with leading technology, scale effect and good management ability in the field of MEMS deserves attention.

The rise of the Internet of things will open the blue ocean of MEMS applications: according to yole development, the scale of the global MEMS market will increase from US $11.1 billion in 2014 to more than US $22 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth of more than 12%, surpassing the semiconductor market. In the era of nb-iot Internet of things, new wearable devices need more miniaturized devices and more convenient interaction modes, which will bring more application opportunities to MEMS devices.

The MEMS industry will gradually embark on a specialized division of labor mode: at present, MEMS manufacturing is mainly divided into three categories: pure MEMS OEM, IDM enterprise OEM and traditional integrated circuit MEMS OEM. Although most MEMS businesses are still controlled by IDM enterprises, with the gradual standardization of manufacturing process, MEMS industry will follow the development trend of traditional integrated circuit industry in the future and gradually move towards the mode of separation of design and manufacturing. The business model developed by pure MEMS OEM and MEMS design company will become the mainstream of business model in the future.

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