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China companies pursue MEMS acceleration transducer development

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Pressure transducer

CETC's MEMS acceleration transducer has a resolution that is better than 10μg, and 2.5μg noise. It features overload protection.

A breakthrough model is expected to drive R&D as makers take advantage of opportunities in the mobile phone, consumer electronics, automotive and medical markets.

Widening adoption of MEMS acceleration transducers in mobile phones and consumer electronics is spurring China suppliers to pursue product development. In the first application, uptake has risen to 70 percent from no more than 10 percent in 2008, thanks to decreasing prices and maturing algorithms.

A further encouragement is the lead taken by state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp., which won an international bid against counterparts from the US and Switzerland. It is a first for a China corporation.

CETC has developed several key technologies such as high-precision silicon-on-insulator processing, wafer level packaging with adjustable damping, and low power consumption ASIC. Its MEMS acceleration transducer exhibits elevated precision and resolution but low noise, power consumption and temperature drift, in addition to overload protection. The unit has a resolution that is better than 10μg, and 2.5μg noise. It weighs less than 1.2g.

Established in 2002, CETC has integrated R&D and production of materials, components, software and assemblies used in the information field. It offers products for civil and military applications. The maker’s workforce includes 11 academics from the China Engineering Academy and 487 state-level science and technology personnel. It has 15 national key laboratories, four application centers, nine R&D facilities, and 20 post-doctoral science research workstations.

Development roadmap

The future direction of MEMS acceleration transducers will include three aspects.

The first will entail new types of sensitive materials, which will help improve precision and response speed. Photoelectron, microelectronic and biochemistry techniques will also be developed.

The second involves miniaturization, with dimensions reaching micron and nanometer levels, and lower power consumption.

The last will concentrate on integration and intelligence. Upcoming units can include a geomagnetic transducer, gyroscope, GPS and other modules. More recent iPhone models have modules combining MEMS acceleration and geomagnetic transducers.

The development roadmap also has the automotive industry as a promising market. A vehicle currently uses between 40 and 100 transducers. With the trend for more intelligent cars, there will be a higher requirement for the component. Such transducers can be utilized in anti-lock brake systems, electronic stability programs, electronic control suspension, electrical park brakes, hill start assist control and tire pressure monitoring systems. Engine anti-shake, vehicle inclination measurement and heartbeat detection are also potential applications.

Makers focus on electronic stability programs because their active anti-skid function needs more transducers and advanced processing systems.

Besides the automotive sector, there is the growing medical field as an expected application base for the category, particularly in equipment used in endovascular, intracranial and cell surgical procedures.

Related report:
Sensors: Makers strengthen sensors segment

Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

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