'Lab-in-Fab' to advance adoption of piezoelectric MEMS

STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd

Friday, 06 November, 2020

'Lab-in-Fab' to advance adoption of piezoelectric MEMS

STMicroelectronics, a leader in micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, has announced a collaboration with A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME), a research institute in Singapore, and ULVAC, a Japanese manufacturing tool vendor, to jointly set up and operate an 8″ (200 mm) R&D line focused on piezo MEMS technology within ST’s existing manufacturing facility in Singapore.

Claimed to be the first of its kind in the world, the ‘Lab-in-Fab’ R&D line brings together three partners with complementary competencies in piezo materials, piezo MEMS technologies and wafer-fab tools to boost innovation and accelerate development of new materials, process technologies and, ultimately, products for industry customers.

The Lab-in-Fab consists of a new cleanroom area within ST’s Ang Mo Kio campus and will host tools and dedicated resources from the three parties, which include MEMS R&D and process scientists and engineers. IME’s knowledge base and industrial drive in piezo MEMS device design, process integration and system integration should add value to the development of the line. IME will also contribute tools to help ensure a smooth product flow through to production, all within the same location. The R&D line will also leverage existing ST resources, benefiting from the economies of scale of ST’s wafer fabs on the same campus.

“We want to build the world’s leading R&D centre for piezo MEMS materials, technologies and products with IME and ULVAC, with whom we have been working for a long time. This world-first will be hosted in our Singapore site, a strategic location for ST,” said Benedetto Vigna, President, Analog, MEMS and Sensors Group, STMicroelectronics. “The Lab-in-Fab will offer our customers the capability to more easily go from a feasibility study to product development and high-volume manufacturing.”

The collaboration is set to enhance the existing manufacturing process portfolio of ST Singapore and accelerate the adoption of piezo MEMS actuators in promising new fields of application, including MEMS mirrors for smart glasses, AR headsets and LIDAR systems, piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducers (PMUT) for emerging medical applications and piezo heads for commercial and industrial 3D printing.

“The public–private partnership between IME, ST and ULVAC has led to the creation of a unique R&D line, which will bring about novel products using piezo materials and boost the competitiveness of our partners,” said IME Executive Director Professor Dim-Lee Kwong. “These efforts will continue to anchor high-value R&D activities in Singapore and demonstrate that Singapore continues to be an attractive environment for industry leaders to innovate and grow their businesses. A*STAR is also committed to helping local SMEs tap into our technologies. We welcome companies to collaborate with IME and leverage our Lab-in-Fab facilities for proof of concept.”

“We are proud of being a Lab-in-Fab partner of ST and IME in developing advanced piezo MEMS for numerous promising future applications,” added Dr Koukou SUU, Executive Officer and Senior Fellow of ULVAC. “This is also a strong proof of ULVAC’s leadership in providing manufacturing technology solutions to the piezo MEMS industry. We are looking forward to working closely with our partners for a successful collaboration.”

The Lab-in-Fab facility is forecast to be ready and operational with first wafers in Q2 2021 and volume production at the end of 2022.

Image caption: ST Techno Park in in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore.

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