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Murata Electronics considers RF for MEMS

Posted: 19 Mar 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless sensor? MEMS? RF?

Passives to power supplies vendor Murata Manufacturing took over MEMS maker Finland-based VTI Technologies in 2012, culminating in a name change to Murata Electronics. The takeover is part of a long-term strategic move by Murata towards greater complexity and greater added value in its products.

However, the company has dropped plans to make MEMS for consumer applications at Vantaa.

"We make automotive, industrial, medical sensors and we are Murata's centre of excellence for MEMS," said Hannu Laatikainen, executive vice president of automotive business at Murata Electronics, speaking on the sidelines of the MEMS Executive Congress. "We also do R&D for consumer MEMS but the business responsibility is in Japan and manufacturing will be outsourced to foundries," he added.

The decision is partly driven by the strong growth experienced by Vantaa with its present portfolio. The company manufactured MEMS worth about $130 million in 2012, a 14 per cent increase on 2011.

Shinji Ushiro, president and CEO of Murata Electronics, said that the automotive, industrial and medical markets also provide an opportunity to pursue wireless sensor networks by adding communications technology to MEMS. "We have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee technologies and 65 per cent of smartphones have some sort of front-end RF solution from Murata," he said.

Along with its acquisition of VTI Technologies, Murata has made a series of acquisitions of RF companies. In 2012 it acquired RF Monolithics Inc. for about $22 million in cash. The company manufactures short-range radio components, RF modules and boxed radios for a range of industrial, commercial and consumer applications including machine-to-machine communications.

At present Murata Electronics subcontracts the production of signal conditioning ASICs for use alongside its MEMS die to Texas Instruments and then these two-die solutions are packaged as a MEMS component at Murata Electronics in Finland.

Laatikainen said that although most of Murata's MEMS are based on inertial sensing principles it is developing an optically-based fuel sensor in cooperation with the local VTT Research Institute for the automotive sector. "That might also be interesting in the medical sector," Laatikainen said

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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