Launching a Trillion Sensors on a Sea of Through Silicon Vias

Launching a Trillion Sensors on a Sea of Through Silicon Vias

To the readers of 3D InCites: Happy New Year! I hope your 2014 will be a healthy and prosperous one for you and for your families, and I hope you will continue following 3D InCites (and maybe even be contributing yourselves) as the year progresses.

Now that the Internet of Things (IoT) technology meme is in the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” phase of the Gartner Hype Cycle Curve, and with the news out of Las Vegas coming from CES this month doing nothing to tone down the buzz around connected things, I thought I would add to the conversation by presenting my perspective on where the MEMS field is headed in 2014 and beyond.

I sometimes get the feeling that MEMS is looked upon as the poor cousin of the semiconductor fabrication family, using, as MEMS often does, smaller wafers and older processing tools and fabs in its manufacturing than does a leading-edge CMOS IC foundry.

Fair enough, I say, fair enough, but isn’t it from within the MEMS space that some of 2.5D and 3D IC’s most important process technologies sprang? Wafer bonding, for example, or Bosch Process deep silicon etch? And isn’t it the MEMS industry that has commercially profited the most to date with products or services based on TSVs?

And isn’t the MEMS industry revenue on track for 13% CAGR over the next part of this decade? (The global semiconductor industry revenue, by comparison, is expected to exhibit only 4.3% CAGR over the same period.)

Factor those factors together, and I would say MEMS is a poor cousin no more.

One other thing you’ve also got to like about the MEMS industry is that is has vision. Trillion Sensor vision.

And its own Trillion Sensors Summit, which was held on the Stanford University campus in October 2013.

The objective of the TSensors Summit was to “invent” new ultrahigh volume sensor based applications likely to enter the market in the coming decade and accelerate the Abundance.

In order to create Abundance (“The Future Is Better Than You Think”) there needs to be technological revolutions in these areas: Health Care, Food, Energy, Water, Education and Freedom.

Those revolutions are going to be heavily dependent on MEMS sensors.

And since with every MEMS device there always seems to be an ASIC, for signal conditioning or for A/D conversion, for example, the MEMS industry is going to continue to push the commercialization of 3D IC technology, as will be discussed in this month’s “MEMS – Killer Application for 3D TSV Integration” panel discussion during the European 3D TSV Summit 2014 in Grenoble.

A trillion sensors launched on a sea of TSVs. I like where this is going. ~ P.F.W