Friday, March 30, 2007

"CHIPS: Cheaper avenue to 65 nm?"

Patterning 65-nanometer features on chips involves expensive techniques that have prompted leading chip makers like Texas Instruments to begin relying on foundries. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and spin-off company Focal Point Microsystems (Atlanta), now claim to have devised a cheaper, easier way to pattern at the 65-nm node. Called 3D multiphoton lithography, the technique still lacks the throughput needed by chip makers today. But within a few years, the researchers hope their process can be scaled down to lower nodes faster and more cheaply than the exponentially increasing cost of scaling down traditional lithography techniques.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"CHIPS: Shaped-foil inductor could reduce size, cost for energy applications"

Inductors smooth current flow in voltage conversion applications, but add significant bulk and cost, especially to high power applications like hybrid vehicles. Now a shaped-foil inductor design is offering loss reductions as high as 50 percent compared to conventional inductors. The shaped-foil design was invented at Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.) and has been licensed to West Coast Magnetics (Stockton, Calif.).

Monday, March 19, 2007

"MEMS: A pioneer charts MEMS' trajectory"

Kurt Petersen has been called a "founding father of MEMS" because of his pioneering research work on microelectromechanical systems at IBM Corp. in the 1970s. He has co-founded four MEMS startups, the most successful of which, NovaSensor, has delivered hundreds of millions of MEMS sensors worldwide. Petersen also pioneered the fusion of MEMS and microfluidic technology in a biological detection system made at another of his startups, Cepheid. It's now used by the U.S. Postal Service to screen mail for possible anthrax contamination. Petersen's most recent startup, SiTime Corp., plans to substitute MEMS and CMOS chips for all the billions of bulky quartz-crystal oscillator cans that maintain time bases for everything from watches to the electronics on printed-circuit boards. He recently told EE Times' R. Colin Johnson where he sees MEMS going in the future.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"MEMS: Consumers moving MEMS into mainstream"

MEMS technology keeps moving into the mainstream. An industry analyst at the Globalpress Electronics Summit here said the future of microelectromechanical systems will be consumer-driven. According to Walker, the current MEMS market is expected to acellerate over the next few years as consumer products begin driving the market. MEMS manufacturing technology combines both mechanical and electronics properties, and is compatible with nanotechnology, Hence, MEMS is enabling what Walker called "the ultimate systems-on-a-chip." By 2010, Walker said, MEMS components could be a $10 billion market, while products enabled by MEMS technology could grow to as much as $95 billion.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"MEMS: HP takes MEMS, Moore to nanotech era"

Hewlett-Packard Co. pioneered microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for printheads in the 1980s. By combining integrated electronics with microfluidic channels, HP realized what it calls the "thermal-inkjet Moore's Law." Today's printheads feature Pentium-class microcontrollers on the front side of the chip, with the back side covered with microfluidic channels supporting up to 3,900 inkjet nozzles. Now HP is applying its expertise in MEMS and CMOS integration to extend the semiconductor Moore's Law, from seismic-grade sensors to maskless lithography to nanotechnology approaching the atomic scale. Tim Weber, direc- tor of research and development for HP Labs' Technology Development Operation, described that work to EE Times contributing editor R. Colin Johnson.

Friday, March 02, 2007

"MEMS: switch tops 26 GHz"

MEMS switch maker TeraVicta Technologies Inc. on Monday (March 5) will announce what it claims is the world's fastest MEMS switch at the Globalpress Electronics Summit. The 26.5-GHz, single-pole, double-throw switch measures 3.25 by 4.5 by 1.25 mm and is aimed at digital television, satellite communications and phased radar applications. The new MEMS switch is TeraVicta's second product, following its 7-GHz MEMS switch introduced last year, which targets automated test equipment (ATE) and RF wireless applications.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"MEMS: SiTime lands MEMS design wins"

SiTime Corp. announced at the Globalpress Electronics Summit that it had new MEMS oscillator design wins from three unidentified customers, including one order for 1 million units. All three of the companies make consumer electronics devices, including cellphones. The oscillators will allow the customers to shrink their devices by eliminating bulky quartz crystals from their pc-boards. When SiTime (Sunnyvale, Calif.) adds quartz crystal makers like Micro Crystal (Grenchen, Switzerland) to its customer list, it will boast orders for over 50 million MEMS oscillators.

"CHIPS: Wireless USB chip debuts"

Startup Artimi Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) has unveiled a WiMedia-compliant dual-mode wireless USB and Bluetooth chip at the Globalpress Electronics Summit. Including both a media-access controller (MAC) and programmable applications processor, Artimi's A-150 chip is intended to help OEMs add WiMedia-based wireless USB and Bluetooth 3.0 communications capabilities to devices. The dual-mode chip provides up to 480-Mbit/s wireless communications to peripherals, adding just 60 milliwatts of power consumption to handheld devices. For older peripherals, thumb-sized USB devices with a A-150 inside can be plugged into the existing USB port to turn it into a wireless peripheral.