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Companies Partner to Develop Multiaxis MEMS Gyroscopes

Photonics.com
May 2007
The SAES Getters Group of Lainate, Italy, a provider of getter technology for high-vacuum applications, and Geneva-based STMicroelectronics, a manufacturer of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) devices, announced they will partner to produce next-generation MEMS gyroscopes at their facilities near Milan, Italy. SAES' PageWafer getter thin-films will be integrated into STMicroelectronics' gyroscopes to measure angular speeds with higher device sensitivity and stability. Integrated circuits containing MEMS effectively exploit silicon's electrical and mechanical properties, while traditional semiconductors utilize just the electrical. Exploiting silicon's mechanical properties is a  recent phenomenon, and MEMS gyroscopes, smaller than the diameter of a human hair, are a relatively new frontier, the companies said. Applications for the new devices include mobile phones, portable devices, MP3/MP4 players, PDAs, gaming and navigation devices, and possibly as image stablizers in camcorders and digital cameras. ST said it expects to ramp to industrial volume production in the first half of 2008.


GLOSSARY
getter
In vacuum deposition, a device that removes contaminants from the vacuum chamber.
gyroscope
See fiber optic gyroscope; ring-laser gyroscope; micro-optic gyroscope.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
wafer
A cross-sectional slice cut from an ingot of either single-crystal, fused, polycrystalline or amorphous material that has refined surfaces either lapped or polished. Wafers are used either as substrates for electronic device manufacturing or as optics. Typically, they are made of silicon, quartz, gallium arsenide or indium phosphide.
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