Looking at the global MEMS market, industry experts are predicting double-digit device growth in the next three to five years. How that translates into capital equipment spending is yet to be determined. MEMS growth continues to be driven by consumer electronics, mobile and handheld applications. Significant additional growth will come from the Chinese mobile market, which could account for as much as 30% of overall MEMS spending for mobile and handheld applications.
There are ever-increasing opportunities for low-cost MEMS within the consumer market, which will drive innovation in the coming years. For example, not everyone needs a high-end microphone on their handheld or mobile device, so there remain opportunities to provide low-cost MEMS for these applications. Even a state-of-the-art smartphone has room for both low-cost and high-cost MEMS options, representing opportunity in a very cost-sensitive market.
Regarding new applications for MEMS, the market is limited only by people’s imagination. For the sensor market, innovation will come down to how we integrate sensors onto new platforms. This results in MEMS being incorporated further into people’s everyday activities; for example demand for sensors in the sports and personal health industries will grow significantly.
Challenges remain. In a cost-sensitive market, manufacturers will demand efficient processing with high yields compatible with a wide range of standard films and materials. This will allow MEMS devices to be manufactured using standard equipment and processes, thereby minimizing cost.
While MEMS don’t follow the demands of Moore’s Law, increasing complexity and size will demand more advanced processing capability and performance focused on cost-effective volume manufacturing.