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Growth spurt seen for MEMS

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Caren B. Les,

LYON, France – The value of the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) market is expected to reach about $8 billion in 2008 and to rise to $15.5 billion by 2012, according to a report from Yole Développement, a marketing and consulting company. Projections indicate strong growth for the industry in consumer applications as well as in the automotive, medical and industrial sectors. Titled “MIS ’08 – Status of the MEMS Industry 2008,” the report was published in September 2008.


MEMS market values for 2007 and projections for 2008 through 2012 are shown in millions USD. Courtesy of Yole Développement.

Based on its research, the company predicts that market volume will increase at a rate of 30 percent annually in the coming years, rising from the production of 2.5 billion units in 2007 to a projected 8 billion in 2012. Most of the large systems manufacturers are either investing in 8-in. semiconductor wafer manufacturing lines or are transferring their production to systems foundries. More than 10 companies have moved from 6- to 8-in. lines, and another 10 are expected to follow soon, according to the company.

Jean-Christophe Eloy, president and CEO of Yole, said that the move to the 8-in. line is a result of the introduction of systems devices for consumer and communications applications. The growth of the number of units is important and the price decrease substantial, he said, adding that the only way to sustain it is to go to the 8-in. wafer size and, year after year, to decrease the size of the device, to change to lower-cost packaging and to try to have a 10 percent decrease in price per year – with at least a 15 percent increase in sales per year for consumer applications.

The open foundry market is expected to develop at a 30 percent compound annual growth rate through 2011. Eloy noted that foundries increasingly are being used by systems manufacturers to accommodate the growth of the business and by companies without fabrication plants that are entering volume production. He said that some established companies are opting for subcontractors instead of investing in new facilities.

A number of devices recently have been commercialized and are expected to drive the MEMS business in the next five years. Pico projectors for mobile phones are in demand, and we can expect to see them produced in high volume next year, Eloy said. With a focus on entering the automotive business, the night vision microbolometers market is experiencing healthy growth as it moves from defense and security to instrumentation and maintenance applications.

The microdisplays market also will thrive, he said. However, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies (QMT) Inc. of San Diego is the only company proposing a systems solution for microdisplays that is industrialized and suitable for volume production for mobile applications, he added.

Systems packaging, which amounts to more than 60 percent of the cost of the devices, has evolved. Wafer-level packaging on a larger scale and 3-D packaging now are available and are reducing the cost and footprint of the devices, according to the company.

Microfluidics for drug discovery is a key growth application for the systems. Emerging applications include oscillators, energy-harvesting devices, and microzoom and autofocus functions in cellular phones.

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2008
BusinessCommunicationsConsumerdefensefabrication plantsindustriallight speedmicroelectromechanical systemsvolume

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