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MEMS work uses polysilicon-germanium over CMOS

Posted: 11 Aug 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mems sensor? signal conditioning circuit? cmos?

A gyroscope developed under a European Commission supported project, is intended to serve as a demonstrator of a combined MEMS sensor and signal conditioning circuit.

The team developed a single chip that adds a polycrystalline silicon-germanium (poly-SiGe) layer on top of a standard silicon layer. The poly-SiGe layer is the structural layer of a micro-electromechanical device that uses Coriolis forces to sense the rate of turn, while the underlying silicon includes CMOS circuitry to amplify the signal and convert it to a digital one.

The use of a silicon-germanium overlayer to contain the micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) gives the project its name, SIGEM. Although a gyroscope was developed the technology could be applied to devices such as accelerometers, micro mirrors, resonators and others, the Inter-university Micro Electronics Centre (Leuven, Belgium) said.

The project has run for three years, from July 2002 to June 2005 and included Philips. ASM International, Robert Bosch, GmbH and IMEC. The amount spent on the project and the value of the support from the European Commission were not disclosed.

"As far as we know, this is the first time anybody has achieved this type of layered integration between a gyroscope and a processor," said Ann Witvrouw, SIGEM project coordinator and team leader for MEMS integration at IMEC, in a statement. "It opens the way for a whole range of new devices that integrate mechanical sensors with silicon circuits."

The team chose to develop a gyroscope as a demonstrator because Bosch is likely to need more accurate gyroscopes in the future, IMEC said.

Gyroscopes can be used to trigger airbags during rollover, improve the accuracy of GPS navigation systems and stabilize pitch and yaw movement in cars, airplanes, robots antennas and industrial equipment.

- Peter Clarke

EE Times

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