Some time back, AMFitzgerald and Silex, a MEMS consultancy and foundry, respectively, announced their “RocketMEMS” program in order to take steps to accelerate the notoriously slow MEMS design cycle. At the recent MEMS Executive Congress, they announced the first fruits of this labor.
They had designed three pressure sensors: one for blood pressure/medical, an altimeter, and one for industrial use. Critically, Silex provided design guidance to drive the design. While that might seem obvious, it’s the reverse of what usually happens, where the designers tell the foundry how they want the process details to look. As a result, the design had a better chance of working, given that the process had been characterized already.
The designers used Ansys, SoftMems, and Tanner tools. DRC was manual (since there is no automated MEMS DRC tool, although apparently the hooks are available if anyone wants to step up…).
Results? First silicon worked. And it took only 7 months for design and fab; wafer and package-level test took an additional month.
In this model, their customers handle the packaging (design and assembly) and the sensor algorithms, so that wasn’t part of the project.
This would appear to validate the concept that MEMS design can happen in less than five years.
You can read more in their announcement.