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Coming soon: MEMS killer apps

Posted: 25 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? killer application? oscillator? R&D?

Emerging MEMS applications promise to herald a new era of killer MEMS apps, according to market research firm Yole Development.

Yole predicts that the emerging MEMS segment will grow from $550 million in 2009 to over $2 billion in 2015, while the overall MEMS market climbs from $7 billion in 2009 to more than $18 billion in 2015.

"There are a lot of new MEMS devices crossing the gap from R&D to commercialization," said Eric Mounier, lead author of a new Yole report on emerging MEMS markets. "[These] devices could be the next killer applications."

Some of the applications reported as potential "killer apps" are already familiar, such as MEMS oscillators, the sales of which already account for a share of the reported $550 million in emerging device sales in 2009. Growth in oscillators is predicted to soon accelerate around the "knee" of the hockey stick curve that marks success for a developing technology.

Other MEMS applications just taking off include minuscule electronic compasses for navigation and diminutive bolometers that measure incident electromagnetic radiation by raising their temperature.

According to Yole (Lyon, France) MEMS applications that are still in the labs but will emerge soon include MEMS-based auto-focus mechanisms for the tiny optical lenses used in point-and-shoot cameras, energy harvesting modules, micro displays, micro fuel cells, micro speakers, microscopic RFID tags, deep reactive-ion etched micro structures for luxury watches and microtips for probe cards and other fine-pitch test equipment.

The Yole report lists 30 new startups designing emerging MEMS devices alongside many of the old timers, including: Agiltron, Aichi Steel, AKM, Akustica, ALPS , Audiopixels, BAE Systems, Bluechiip, Bosch, Cambridge Mechatronics, Ceradyne, Diamaze, Discera, DRS, Epson Toyocom, Faun Infrared, Focalplane, FLIR, Fluke, Frederique Constant, GP, Honeywell, Jaeger-Lecoultre, L3 Communications, Lensvector, MB&F, MEMSiC, MicroGen, Mikrosistemler, Mimotec, Mitsubishi, NEC Avio, Nivarox, NoblePeak Vision, NXP, Omega, ON Semiconductor, Optotune, Panasonic, Patek Philippe, Pixtronix, PNI, Polight, QinetiQ, Qualcomm, Rhevision, Samsung, Sand9, Sarnoff, SCD, Sensitec, Sensonor, Sigatec, Siimpel, Silicon Clocks, SiTime, Sonion, Temicon, Ulis, Unipixel, Varioptic, Verateg, VTI Technologies, Xenics and Yamaha.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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