By Dr. Cameron Chai
VINNOVA, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, has awarded a research grant worth SEK 3 million to Silex Microsystems, a pure-play MEMS foundry, to develop advanced ferromagnetic materials for MEMS devices for use in next-generation smartphones.
Silex Microsystems was one among the 63 applicants who received the research grant under VINNOVA's research and development initiative titled ‘Forska & Vax.’ Over 340 applicants submitted their proposals for the grant. The total amount of grants awarded by VINNOVA for research and development programs was SEK 68 million. The objective of VINNOVA's grant is to help small and medium-sized companies invest in research and development so that they can improve their competitiveness, which in turn spur growth in Sweden.
The award is a testament to the Silex Microsystems’ vast experience in the development of MEMS technology. The magnetic MEMS technology development program is anticipated to commence at Silex Microsystems in May 2012 and will continue for 18 months. This program consists of concept development, materials selection, and prototyping runs.
Silex Microsystems’ Chief Technologist, Dr Thorbjorn Ebefors informed that magnetic MEMS will play a major role in future MEMS products as it facilitates the integration of multi-axis sensors. Smartphone applications already feature multi-axis sensors and e-compass integration that combine gyro functions with magnetic sensing to bring manifold degrees-of-freedom sensors to the marketplace.
Moreover, the combination of magnetic materials and the Silex Met-Via through silicon via technology can help in the development of a new class of high value, high Q integrated inductors. This is a key advancement for 'Functional Capping' solutions and integration of high-quality integrated passive devices. This program will develop new materials and capabilities to the company’s customers for their future-generation products, Ebefors concluded.