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Fraunhofer Spin-Off Develops Silicon Micro-Loudspeaker

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DRESDEN, Germany, April 1, 2020 — The Fraunhofer IPMS spin-off company Arioso Systems GmbH has completed its first round of financing for its sound transducer principle for miniaturized headphones. Known as hearables, the micro-loudspeaker technology made from 100% silicon is based on the patented Nanoscopic Electrostatic Drive (NED) principle from Fraunhofer IPMS.

Instead of a conventional membrane, the Arioso sound transducer membrane is installed inside the body of a silicon chip as a series of bending strips. New electrostatic actuators called Nano E-Drives are integrated inside the 20-µm-wide bending strips, energized by vibrations from the audio signal voltage. Being integrated into the silicon chip allows the components to take up less space, leading to higher energy efficiency than conventional loudspeakers. Arioso says its micro-loudspeaker is therefore suited for future, highly integrated in-ear headphone or hearable applications, such as instant translation, pay functions, and other speech-based internet services.

“With our spin-off company, we wanted to introduce new audio technology to the market and thereby make a contribution to the competitiveness of Germany’s industry,” said Harald Schenk, director of the Fraunhofer IPMS (Institute for Photonic Microsystems). “We are therefore very happy about the successful completion of the first financing round.”

Animation of a MEMS microloudspeaker device with parallel arranged actuator pairs. Courtesy of Fraunhofer IPMS.

Arioso said it now has exclusive marketing rights to the new audio technology from Fraunhofer IPMS. The company said its technology can be further developed and integrated into audio devices thanks to the funds from the first financing round. In addition, the startup financing will also enable further development and testing of technology at Fraunhofer IPMS.

“The startup phase has been completed in a way that promises success thanks to first-rate collaboration with researchers from the Fraunhofer IPMS and from the field of professional clean room engineering,” said Herrmann Schenk, COO of Arioso. “The market is highly interested in MEMS-based micro-loudspeakers. Thanks to the successful financing, Arioso now has a very promising commercial basis.”

The seed financing round, which reached €2.6 million, was spearheaded by Brandenburg Kapital, Potsdam, and further supported by HTGF, Bonn; TGFS-Basic Fonds from Dresden (managed by MBG); and Business Angels. Both the Fraunhofer IPMS site in Dresden and the IPMS-ISS division in Cottbus are working on further developing NED technology
Apr 2020
1. An instrument that can convert energy from one form to another; e.g., a photodetector that converts modulated light waves to electrical currents. 2. A device that enables energy to flow from one transmission system to another.
BusinessFraunhoferEuropetransducerMEMSsilicon chipstart-upspeakersheadphonesGermanystartupactuators

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