Baolab Microsystems has announced a new technology to construct nanoscale MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) within the structure of the actual CMOS wafer itself using standard, high volume CMOS lines, which is much easier and quicker with fewer process steps than existing MEMS fabrication techniques that build the MEMS on the surface of the wafer. This significantly reduces the costs of a MEMS by up to two thirds and even more if several different MEMS are created together on the same chip.

Nanoscale MEMS Sensor Technology - NanoEMS (Nano Embedded Mechanical System)Baolab’s exciting new patented technology NanoEMS – Nano Embedded Mechanical Systems – enables the integration of MEMS motion sensors or RF switches in a standard CMOS process, resulting in dramatic price reductions and volume production scale.

The Baolab NanoEMS technology uses the existing metal layers in a CMOS wafer to form the MEMS structure using standard mask techniques. The Inter Metal Dielectric (IMD) is then etched away through the pad openings in the passivation layer using vHF (vapour HF). The etching uses equipment that is already available for volume production and takes less than an hour, which is insignificant compared to the overall production time. The holes are then sealed and the chip packaged as required. As only standard CMOS processes are used, NanoEMS™ MEMS can be directly integrated with active circuitry as required.

Benefits of NanoEMS Nanoscale MEMS Sensor Technology

  • Improved performance
  • Dramatically reduced price
  • High volume production
  • Multiple sourcing – from standard CMOS foundries
  • Nano-scale MEMS structures – an order of magnitude smaller than today’s solutions
  • Integration – multiple sensors with control electronics
  • Smaller packages – compass and accelerometer in 3×3 LGA
  • Roadmap to full MEMS integration on SoC (System-on-Chip)

3D Digital Compasses & Magnetometers, 3D Accelerometers and 3D Gyroscopes can be built using NanoEMS , as well as combinations of two or more sensors, for example a 6-degree-of-freedom tilt-corrected electronic compass comprising both 3D compass and 3D accelerometer. RF switches are also under development for tunable 3G/4G mobile phone transceiver applications.

Compasses, accelerometers and gyroscopes can all be made simultaneously on the same CMOS chip using NanoEMS with considerable cost savings: traditional MEMS techniques require a different construction process for each type of MEMS.