posted by Bryon Moyer
Our bodies have evolved on practical, not principled, grounds. So we have one sensor for photons in the visible spectrum, and we have a completely different sense for photons at wavelengths just longer those in the visible range. One we perceive as light; the other as heat.
But in fact, we now know, intellectually, that they’re just different frequencies of the same thing. It just doesn’t feel that way.
Well, Bosch has taken a page out of the physiology book with its recent infrared detector array. Instead of detecting photons, it also detects heat. They use a porous silicon membrane plus diodes to generate an image that’s admittedly not high-res. And not intended to be.
This isn’t about badass pinpoint-perfect night vision; it’s about low-cost industrial or other applications where resolution per se isn’t the goal. Perhaps you’re trying to distinguish human from animal. Or monitoring train bearings to make sure they’re not overheating.
In fact, this sensor didn’t originate in the consumer Sensortec division; it’s marketed out of the automotive division, which makes me wonder whether they had (or have) a specific auto application in mind. Or perhaps “locomotive” is close enough to “automotive”… (or does that sound crazy?)
I’d send you to a release for more information, but… they didn’t issue one for this. I’d send you to a web page… but I can’t find one (I haven’t found a way to get to these kinds of products on Bosch’s website… it’s all about higher-level modules and systems… even Googling doesn’t help). It was just a conversation I had at the MEMS Executive Congress. I’d say, “You saw it here first,” except perhaps, “You saw it here only” is more appropriate. And has me wondering, “Did I really have that conversation??”
So perhaps your friendly neighborhood Bosch Automotive salesperson would be the next step if you want more info…
posted by Bryon Moyer
We’ve taken an occasional look at physically-unclonable functions (PUFs), and, in particular, IntrinsicID’s implementation of them, as they seem to have gone further in productizing their technologies than others have. As we’ve noted before, PUFs rely on intrinsic physical variation from chip to chip. While this variation may drive IC designers and EDA guys nuts, it’s leveraged in PUFs so that a unique key can be created for each individual machine or USB dongle. The key is never stored, so it’s much much harder for some ne’er-do-well to crack.
As we’ve also noted before, IntrinsicID launched a security facility called Saturnus for protecting cloud contents. They have now integrated their PUF technology with InsideSecure’s secure microcontrollers to create USB keys. Combined with Saturnus, they now work with DropBox: Selected files, when uploaded, will be encrypted first. They cannot be decrypted without the key that’s on the USB stick. Wait, no, it’s not literally on the stick – it’s generated on the stick. That’s what makes this work; the key is generated each time it’s used.
As far as I can tell, this is the furthest PUF technology has gone, at least in the white-project commercial world. (Who knows how it’s being used in black projects…) By integrating itself into an accepted consumer application like DropBox, it becomes relevant to a broad range of user.
posted by Bryon Moyer
A few months ago, we looked at Sand 9’s initial announcement. They had laid out 3 families at that point: a basic resonator (TM061), a temperature-sensing resonator (TM361), and a “roadmap” family for temperature-sensing oscillators. Well, they recently announced a new device that goes in yet a new family: temperature-compensated oscillators – the TM651. When chip-scale packaged, they claim it’s the smallest oscillator in the world (although an LGA is also available).
They’ve come out swinging at their performance versus quarts, in particular the latter’s susceptibility to so-called “activity dips,” which we covered in the prior piece. But they’re also comparing themselves to other MEMS – and, in particular, electrostatic – oscillators. They say:
- The filter and noise are better than any MEMS oscillator and competitive with quartz;
- They have 250-ps edge rates as compared to about 1 ns for quartz;
- Their vibration immunity is an order of magnitude better than quartz;
- They have 1/15th the drift of other silicon MEMS due to their analog compensation, which is smoother than digital;
- They can achieve higher frequencies without a DLL, which quartz needs for frequencies above 50 MHz;
- They don’t have quartz’s finicky start-up time (and, apparently, start-up can occasionally fail outright with quartz);
- They have better electromechanical coupling than electrostatic MEMS devices because they’re piezoelectric (with the presumed effect that the coupling happens intrinsically within the material as opposed to being between two distinct mechanical members);
- They have larger transduction area, which, counter-intuitively, reduces die area (presumably because of better intrinsic sensitivity);
- They have no air gaps, vs. those used with electrostatic devices (which goes to coupling efficiency);
- They operate off of a lower voltage;
- They have linear power vs. non-linear for electrostatic, giving them better noise performance;
- They can work with a customer to have the customer’s electronics co-packaged with their resonator for better integration, which isn’t possible with quartz.
That’s a lot of claims.
Their electronics are in the cap wafer. The bonding is done wafer-to-wafer; both the MEMS and ASIC see very high yields (in fact, wafer probing on the MEMS die is done only on a wafer sample basis to see if it looks like there’s a problem with the lot). GlobalFoundries does this for them.
You can read more in their announcement.