Will MEMS Ever Really Matter to the Semiconductor Industry?
Roger T. Howe
Professor Roger T. Howe, Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center
Depts. of EECS and ME
University of California at Berkeley
This talk will begin with a perspective on why silicon MEMS have continued to be a fringe technology for the semiconductor industry. As sensors and actuators, silicon microstructures have been relegated to a peripheral role in information technology. Although several attempts have been made to merge MEMS and electronics over the past twenty years, a standard, low-cost technology has yet to emerge.
The growing momentum toward ubiquitous wireless internet access, sensor networks, and RF tags promises to pull MEMS technologies into the mainstream of the semiconductor industry. Energy is a very scare resource for untethered microsystems; this fact is motivating designers to consider solutions outside the domain of purely electronic communications and computation. To take advantage of MEMS in low-cost, high-volume microsystems, they must be integrated on top of foundry CMOS. Over the past several years, a low-temperature modular process for post-CMOS fabrication of poly-SiGe microstructures has been demonstrated at Berkeley. After reviewing progress with this technology, the talk will conclude with some future directions, including the role of parallel assembly processes in the low-cost manufacturing of microsystems incorporating non-silicon materials.
Roger T. Howe is a Professor in the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and Mechanical Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. He is also a Director of the Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center and is currently serving as Associate Chair of the Electrical Engineering Division. He received the B.S. degree in physics from Harvey Mudd College, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1981 and 1984. After teaching at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1984-85 and at MIT in 1986-87, he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1987. His research interests include micro electromechanical system (MEMS) design, micromachining processes, and parallel assembly processes. A focus of his research has been processes to fabricate integrated microsystems.