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Piezoelectric MEMS mics soars with 70dB signal-to-noise ratio

Posted: 23 Sep 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMs? microphones? Vesper Technology? IoT?

High-performance microphones made with piezoelectric materials may lord over traditional MEMS mics in the near future. Vesper Technologies' first generation of high-definition microphones are said to achieve a 70-dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which is a 5dB advantage over competitors.

"Our piezoelectric material is just beginning to realise its full potential, whereas our competitors using capacitive sensors are approaching the end of the road in optimisation," said Matt Crowley, chief executive officer of Vesper, in an interview with EE Times. Crowley recently moved from Massachusetts-based Sands 9 Inc.the MEMS oscillator company where he was head of business developmentto assume the CEO role at Vesper.

Vesper piezoelectric MEMS mic

Instead of a traditional round diaphragm like capacitive microphones use (right) piezoelectric microphones use a square block of piezoelectric material (aluminium nitride, green) divided into four triangles (along the X from corner to corner) which stretch and contractbut never touchthus creating an ultra low-noise signal picked up by the metal (yellow and gold) electrodes. SOURCE: Vesper

According to IHS, MEMS microphones with better than 64dB SNR will grow at a compound annual rate of 40 per cent until 2017. In addition, up to 12 MEMS microphones are being used in modern automobiles, six in modern smartphones as well as smaller numbers in cameras, camcorders, hearing aids, Bluetooth headsets, wearables and all types of IoT portending a 2 billion unit market by 2017.

According to Crowley, Vesper's HD mics will enable applications that were previously impossible for traditional MEMS mics whose signal-to-noise ratio is limited by the need for a perforated backplate behind the diaphragm. Piezoelectric transducers, on the other hand, have an inherent and enduring advantage over traditional capacitive diaphragms, since piezoelectric tranducers do not require a perforated backplate, which introduces 8db of noise, according to Vesper.

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