Category Archives: Fuel Cells

MEMs in the medical fieldMicroelectromechanical (MEMS) devices are shaping the competitive landscape in the global medical device industry. Several factors are behind the increasing demand for and innovation in MEMS devices in the medical industry: growing number of MEMS applications in healthcare; innovations, revolution and growth in the personal healthcare market, including wireless implants; and rising awareness and affordability of healthcare.

Participants and would-be entrants must understand the medical MEMS device market in order to compete in it. Global Information (GII) highlights three major reports that present the key issues driving and constraining market growth, in addition to probable solutions that can address emerging concerns in the medical MEMS market. Report forecasts provide a quantitative assessment of the market for companies to benchmark their performance and plan for future high growth areas, while qualitative analyses provide both an overarching view and a detailed breakdown of the MEMS market.

MEMS Devices in Global Medical Markets

The use of MEMS devices by different stakeholders is driving market growth by adding to the demand of devices from different medical market segments as discussed above. This is also indirectly encouraging for medical sector market players (particularly big ones) that have diverse customer bases composed of different stakeholders and diverse product portfolios (such as diagnostics, research, and medical devices), as they can capitalize on the MEMS market by leveraging their existing resources to some extent. Moreover, a diverse set of devices catering to the needs of different stakeholders encourages new entrants into sectors of their choice to complement or suit their capabilities and potentials.

Integrated devices and advancements in inertial sensors, such as products for human motion analysis, are meeting the needs of the modernized healthcare delivery model, especially for the elderly patient sector, by adding the element of prevention. An example of product innovation is microneedles for drug delivery, which is gaining popularity by offering a pain-free and enhanced, accurate method of drug delivery. Similarly, the diagnostic devices have significantly reduced the sample testing time from hours to a few minutes, thus significantly adding value to the healthcare delivery model from different perspectives such as time efficiency, convenience, patient satisfaction, and ease of operations.

Microfluidic/lab on chip (LOC) is considered a revolutionary technology for the life sciences and healthcare industry. This technology enables the integration of assay operations, such as sample pretreatment and sample preparation, on a single chip. This is radically changing the pharmaceutical and life-sciences research sector by changing the way procedures, such as DNA analysis and proteomics, are conducted.

The microfluidic/lab on chip (LOC) segment is expected to rise to 72% of the market share of MEMS devices by 2017. Major growth drivers of this sector are research tools, which are expected to achieve significant growth of CAGR 28.8% from 2012 to 2017. A surge from 2012 to 2017 in research applications, such as proteomics, genomics, and cellular analysis, is also expected to boost this sector.

In terms of applications, the macro segments of the market include pharmaceutical and life-sciences research, in vitro diagnostics, home healthcare, and medical devices. Among all of these applications, research is expected to grow at the highest CAGR of 28.3% from 2012 to 2017.


Expected to triple in size over the next five years, the bioMEMS market is expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2012 to $6.6 billion in 2018. Microsystem devices have applications in four key healthcare markets: pharmaceutical, in-vitro diagnostics, medical devices and medical home care. Microsystem devices have become increasingly visible in the healthcare market by serving as solutions adapted to the requirements of various applications. The usefulness of these devices is two-fold: they improve medical device performance for the patient; and secondly, they offer competitive advantages to system manufacturers. For example, the introduction of accelerometers in pacemakers has revolutionized the treatment of cardiac diseases.

BioMEMS devices examined in the report include: pressure sensors, silicon microphones, accelerometers, gyroscopes, optical MEMS and image sensors, microfluidic chips, microdispensers for drug delivery, flow meters, infrared temperature sensors, and emerging MEMS including RFID, strain sensors, and energy harvesting.

The Global MEMs Device, Equipment, and Materials Markets: Forecasts and Strategies for Vendors and Foundries

A significant portion of MEMS manufacturing technology has come from the IC industry. MEMS devices can be made using silicon wafers and the manufacturing process can incorporates semiconductor manufacturing processes such as sputtering, deposition, etching and lithography. This report analyzes the market for MEMS devices and the equipment and materials to make them.

This report provides forecasts for the following key MEMS device applications: ink jet head, pressure sensor, silicon microphone, accelerometer, gyroscope, MOEMS, Micro Display, Microfluidics, RF MEMS, Micro Fuel Cells, and more.

December 13, 2011 — Jean-Christophe Eloy, president & CEO, Yole Développement, shares an analyst’s view of the micro electro mechanical system (MEMS) industry, calling 2011 a year of transition and changes. 2011 is the year when the MEMS market transitions to big business with wide-spread adoption, Eloy asserts.

In 2011, the MEMS sector topped $10 billion for the first time, and a MEMS company (InvenSense) approached $1 billion with its initial public offering (IPO).

Fabless MEMS is becoming a viable business model, noted Eloy. A-List companies are creating MEMS teams: Apple, Google, and Facebook for example.

MEMS are going into high-volume applications like mobile phones. MEMS sensors are showing up in all kinds of systems, enabling them to interact with the external world and sense what is happening: smart munitions, cardiac rhythm management, smart phone functionality, oil drill monitoring, etc.

The MEMS industry has a long way to go before becoming a $100 billion business, Eloy said. "MEMS integration is still complex for system manufacturers, delaying fast market adoption," he added. MEMS manufacturers need to roadmap simplified system integration for more growth of the MEMS business. MEMS companies need to come together to create a MEMS ecosystem, which will simplify the integration of MEMS into larger systems and modules by non-MEMS-specialists.

In 2012, new devices will go into volume production, as has happened with inertial devices in mobile systems; and new applications will evolve, as has happened with antenna-matching MEMS technology, MEMS-based micro fuel cells, Mirasol MEMS-based displays, enumerated Eloy. More units will be produced in inertial sensors, microphones, electronic compass, pressure sensors in the coming year.

Device makers will have to counteract price pressures by redefining their value proposition — selling functions and not only devices. "This is where the major changes will happen in 2012: if MEMS companies want to preserve their margins, they have to remember that MEMS is all about selling functions and micro-systems."

Many MEMS companies are acquisition targets for semiconductor and system makers. Eloy breaks this down into 2 factors: MEMS companies have reached market maturity; and venture capitalists (VCs) that invested in MEMS start-ups 10 years ago can now see a return on their investments.

In 2012, expect growth of MEMS unit volumes and more M&A from interested semiconductor companies.

Figure. 2016 MEMS market value breakdown. Total: $19.6 billion. SOURCE: Yole Développement.

Yole Développement is a group of companies providing market research, technology analysis, strategy consulting, media and finance services. Learn more at

Subscribe to our MEMS Direct newsletter

October 4, 2011 — TU Delft and VU University Amsterdam researchers have demonstrated that hydrogen gas stored in a metal hydride is released faster when the metal alloy nanoparticle is smaller. The research, focused on fuel cells, is aimed at reducing the energy required for hydrogen storage.

Today, hydrogen gas is stored at 700 bar pressure in a vehicle’s fuel tank. Tanks are filled by high-pressure pumps that consume a lot of energy. Magnesium and like metals absorb hydrogen in high densities without high pressure. However, hydrogen release is difficult and slow. The research shows that magnesium nanoparticles fixed in a matrix will release hydrogen faster. The matrix prevents the nanoparticles from aggregating and matrix design helps control the hydrogen desorption pressure.

The interaction between nanoparticles and matrix increases hydrogen release speed, said Bernard Dam, Professor of Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage. The researchers demonstrated, on models comprising thin layers of magnesium and titanium, that hydrogen release increased as thinner layers were used.

The Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Ms Schultz van Haegen, plans to earmark EUR5 million to stimulate hydrogen transport systems in the Netherlands. German car manufacturer Daimler is also planning to build 20 hydrogen fuelling stations along Germany’s motorways. Better hydrogen fuel storage will encourage large-scale hydrogen fuel cell adoption, believe the Dutch researchers. It could also enable flex-fuel electric vehicles (EV) that travel short distances on batteries and switch to hydrogen for longer trips.

The researchers publish their findings in the October issue of the scientific journal Advanced Energy Materials. Access "Interface Energy Controlled Thermodynamics of Nanoscale Metal Hydrides" here:

The research was funded by the ACTS Sustainable Hydrogen Program of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

Learn more about TU Delft at

Read about Energy Storage Trends

September 30, 2011 — The consumer electronics sector — smartphones, media tablets, notebooks, digital cameras — represents a promising emerging market for portable fuel cells. This market has not materialized as quickly as expected, but several fuel cell manufacturers and large-scale electronics companies are currently putting forth micro and small portable fuel cells (PFCs) for a range of portable electronics markets. Limitations in durability, performance, cost, and integration are being overcome.

According to Pike Research, 4.5 million PFCs for portable electronics will be shipped in 2017, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 237% over the next 6 years. The "cautionary" period for fuel cell manufacturers will start to end in 2012, says research analyst Euan Sadden.

Most of the early portable fuel cells for consumer devices will be external battery chargers. High-end consumer electronics require a relatively high power density for long durations. These fuel cell chargers can provide the necessary power without a connection to the electrical grid. The higher prices of early fuel cell adoption will be less prohibitive to high-end consumers.

Most companies are developing external battery chargers that work with a range of products. In October 2009, Toshiba introduced the Dynario, a direct methanol fuel cell designed to power mobile phones, MP3 players, and other devices up to 5V.  Korean and Japanese electronics developers, with their huge resource base and extensive intellectual property, are expected to play a crucial role in developing this market.

Pike Research’s report, “Fuel Cells for Portable Power Applications,” provides a comprehensive examination of applications for portable fuel cells, including portable electronics, external battery chargers, remote monitoring, and military applications. Key technology and business issues are analyzed in depth, and major players in the fuel cell supply chain are profiled. Market forecasts for unit shipments and revenue growth, segmented by application area, are provided through 2017. Learn more at

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. For more information, visit

September 27, 2011 – Marketwire — Thermoelectric maker Marlow Industries launched the EverGen series, thermoelectric-based energy harvesting devices offering low-cost, zero-maintenance power for wireless sensor applications. Wired systems or batteries for wireless sensors prove costly and time-consuming to maintain.

The devices convert small temperature differences (degrees) into milliwatts of power. This electricity is enough to power wireless sensors for the application’s lifetime. The solid-state energy source can be used with sensors, valve solenoids, actuators, and other small devices. The current line includes three designs, with additional products in the works.

EverGen thermoelectric devices:
EverGen Liquid-to-Air: Higher temperature fluid stream and ambient air. Energy harvested via natural convection.
EverGen Liquid-to-Liquid: Higher temperature fluid stream and lower temperature fluid stream.
EverGen Solid-to-Air: Higher temperature solid surface and ambient air. Energy harvested via natural convection.

Marlow will work with customers in multiple industries to integrate energy harvesting devices into existing wireless sensor applications and currently wired installations. Customers need wireless energy harvesters for existing and new builds, the company notes.

New building codes require lighting and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) "smart" designs that moderate usage. Recycling waste heat into electrical power is one way to achieve this, according to Marlow Industries. The company’s aim is to turn the "emerging alternative energy market" into the "mainstream," said Barry Nickerson, general manager, Marlow Industries.

Marlow Industries, a subsidiary of II-VI incorporated, develops and makes thermoelectric technology including thermoelectric modules (TEMs) and subsystems for the aerospace, defense, medical, commercial, industrial, automotive, consumer gaming, telecommunications and power generation markets. For more information visit the company’s website:

II-VI Incorporated (NASDAQ:IIVI) is a vertically integrated manufacturing company that creates and markets products for industrial manufacturing, military and aerospace, high-power electronics and telecommunications, and thermoelectronics applications.

Also read: MIT redesigns MEMS for better energy harvester

Subscribe to our MEMS Direct newsletter

September 20, 2011 – BUSINESS WIRE — New fuel-efficiency standards in the US will become mandatory in 2016, and consumers seek vehicles that consume less gas and generate lower carbon emissions. Ultracapacitors can reduce fuel use by harvesting energy from the vehicle braking system and releasing it to power the vehicle. Pike Research senior analyst John Gartner forecasts that ultracapacitors will play a bigger role in the stop/start vehicle sector in the future, though battery-heavy vehicles like hybrids will be a tougher sell on the technology.

According Pike Research’s latest report, worldwide sales revenue for ultracapacitors in transportation and grid services will grow more than tenfold, to $284.1 million, between 2011 and 2016.

Also read: 2012 sees automotive sensor market back to healthy growth track

In August, President Obama announced new fuel economy and emissions rules for medium and heavy-duty trucks. Proposed last fall by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the new fuel-efficiency standards are voluntary from 2013 through 2015, mandatory for model year 2016 and beyond. They aim to reduce oil consumption by 530 million barrels and carbon emissions by approximately 270 million metric tons for models produced between 2014 and 2018.

To date, ultracapacitors have been viewed as too expensive for most energy storage applications and the technology insufficiently mature for transportation applications. However, Pike Research’s analysis indicates that they are rapidly gaining acceptance in hybrid trucks and stop/start vehicles, which can temporarily shut off the engine when stopped or idling and then automatically restart it to resume locomotion. In Europe, where emissions standards are more stringent than in the United States, stop/start technology has been incorporated into more than two dozen models. The new fuel efficiency standards could drive similar uptake in the United States, and manufacturers will likely turn to ultracapacitors in growing numbers. Pike Research forecasts that worldwide sales of stop/start vehicles will exceed 14 million by 2015, and ultracapacitor revenues in this segment will reach $356 million worldwide by 2020. Ultracapacitors show particular promise in diesel-powered stop/start vehicles.

"Ultracapacitors" from Pike Research provides a comprehensive assessment of ultracapacitors in key application areas including stop/start vehicles, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, and utility grid applications including ancillary services for energy storage. The study includes an examination of technology and market issues, profiles of key industry players in the emerging ultracapacitor market, and market forecasts through 2020. For more information, visit

September 13, 2011 – PRNewswire — Energy storage system supplier Ener1 Inc. (NASDAQ:HEV) will restructure its 8.25% Senior Amortizing Notes with Goldman Sachs Asset Management L.P. and other Note holders. Ener1’s primary shareholder, BzinFin S.A., has extended the maturity of its $15-million line of credit from November 2011 to July 2013.

In the Note restructuring, the $58.5 million outstanding principal amount will be divided into two $29.25 million tranches (A and B below). Each will be convertible at the investor’s option into shares of Ener1’s common stock. 

The conversion price for the Tranche A Notes will be fixed at approximately $0.66, or 175% of the 5-day volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of Ener1’s common stock, for the period ending August 30, 2011.

The conversion price for the Tranche B Notes will be fixed at $2.00, subject to a downward adjustment if such Notes are not redeemed by January 31, 2012 to the lower of the conversion price for the Tranche A Notes or the 5-day VWAP of Ener1’s common stock for the period ending January 31, 2012.

Additional terms of the restructuring include:

The amortization payment due on October 1, 2011 will be made in 50% cash and 50% stock. The requirement to maintain a minimum cash balance has been reduced from the $12 million to the lower of $6 million or 15% of the principal amount of Notes outstanding. Note holders will receive an additional 1.4 million in warrants to purchase Ener1 stock at a strike price of $0.3752 per share. The existing warrants held by the note holders will also be reset to this strike price.

The restructured Notes lend Ener1 more “flexibility” in pursuit of business goals, said Charles Gassenheimer, chairman and CEO. More details will be available once the company completes its restatement of financial statements.

Ener1 Inc. is a publicly traded (NASDAQ:HEV) energy storage technology company that develops compact, lithium-ion-powered battery solutions for the utility grid, transportation and industrial electronics markets. For more information, visit Ener1’s website at

August 29, 2011 — The University of Rochester, joined by US Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-28), opened the Integrated Nanosystems Center (URnano) on campus. The center will be used for nanoscale physics, optics, chemistry, biomedicine and bioengineering research on commercialization of fuel cells, biosensors and other high-tech devices.

URnano comprises a 1000sq.ft. metrology facility and a 2000sq.ft. cleanroom for fabrication.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter helped bring the "impressive, state-of-the-art facility" to the Rochester campus, said University President Joel Seligman. Congresswoman Slaughter secured a total of $4.4 million in federal money across three funding cycles to make the project possible. The work started in 2007, Congresswoman Slaughter recalled, who championed the lab for its job- and company-creation potential. It will "train the next generation of scientists and engineers in nanotechnology," she added.

The center will enhance University of Rochester’s existing engineering strengths, and encourage collaboration with industry, Seligman added. It complements other nanotech research in New York State, including UAlbany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and facilities at Cornell and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, pointed out Nicholas Bigelow, the Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Physics, department chair, and Director of URnano. The University of Rochester is able to produce high-temperature nanomaterials and integrate optical device research and development.

URnano is part of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The University of Rochester is a leading private university. Learn more at

by Chi-I Lang, VP of workflow products and applications, Intermolecular Inc.

June 30, 2011 – Today marked the conclusion of the American Vacuum Society’s 2011 Atomic Level Deposition Conference in Cambridge, MA. Unlike many conferences, hardly anyone left on "getaway day," and all the sessions saw solid attendance. Much of the subject matter today was very in-depth, as presenters dug into some of the nitty-gritty process details of various flavors of ALD and its applications, including solar cell and fuel cell production.

Atomic Level Deposition Conference 2011
Day 1: Interface engineering, rabbit ears and Roy Gordon
Day 2: Manufacturability takes center stage
Day 3: Precursor needs, spatial ALD, and butterfly wings

One cross-cutting trend, picking up a theme from Harvard Professor Roy Gordon’s talk on Sunday, was a broad desire for more access to the myriad precursors that can be used in ALD. Many presenters in the solar cell sessions discussed aluminum oxide deposition, but its popularity seemed to be largely due to the ready availability of precursors.

It’s important to recognize that from a chemical company’s perspective, making a new line of precursors is not a trivial task, especially in the face of uncertain markets. And choosing which ones to make is even more difficult, as there’s a definite chicken-and-egg situation. But the bottom line is that every time a speaker mentioned the need for more precursor options, lots of heads in the audience started nodding.
In addition, there is strong interest in precursors that are less expensive than the semiconductor-grade chemicals that make up the bulk of today’s offerings, which are not necessary for many applications. Moreover, today’s chemicals are optimized for use on silicon, and those exploring germanium and III-V materials would like equal attention to prevent surface-interface issues.

Another interesting dynamic is the jockeying for position between traditional time-dependent ALD, where the substrate remains stationary and throughput is dependent on pulse and purge efficiency, and spatial ALD, where the substrate is transported past stations that dispense precursors and oxidizers (typically, air curtains are used to prevent crosstalk between adjacent stations). Spatial processes seem to be emerging as the leading contender in cost-sensitive and high-throughput applications that do not require cleanroom conditions. Speaker C.S. Hwang of Seoul National University said he does not see a future for spatial ALD in semiconductor production, due to issues with particle contamination on moving objects.

Our last high-level observation is that ALD seems to be enabling a separation of chemical and mechanical engineering in device development. We saw a number of situations that leveraged ALD’s ability to produce films with very high mechanical strength; ALD deposition can be used to create an "exoskeleton" over less robust films, with excellent step coverage and uniformity.

Other highlights:

  • Harvard’s J. Heo, a student of Prof. Gordon, speaking on tin(II) sulfide deposition. The caliber of students in Gordon’s program is very high; Heo gave an extremely rigorous and in-depth review of film growth, including characterization and control methods.
  • Several presentations on the use of aluminum oxide as a passivation layer on solar cells. W.M.M. Kessels of the University of Eindhoven outlined the interface defect density difference between using Al2O3 and SiO2 passivation. For Al2O3, he also pointed out a performance difference between PEALD and thermal ALD Al2O3 process, due to the plasma UV radiation in the PEALD process. Multiple papers on ALD’s use in dye-sensitized photovoltaics, including an interesting one by Pedro Cunha of Cambridge University exploring the use of titania to create gyroid-shaped structures for use in high surface-area cells. Down the road, these low-cost, flexible PV materials could be incorporated into the surface of electronic systems, allowing them to recharge themselves — sounds handy!
  • An intriguing discussion of ALD’s use in replicating the surface structures of butterfly wings, by a multi-university team from Belgium. The work ties into the emerging field of bio-mimicry, which seeks to utilize naturally occurring structures for new applications. Butterfly wings have a complexly textured crystal structure on their surface, which scatters light; this structure may prove useful in solar cell development. ALD’s ability to create very fine conformal coatings allowed the researchers to make extremely precise casts of wing surfaces — a truly remarkable demonstration.
  • Several presentations on fuel cell development, which leveraged ALD in a number of roles including cost-effective coatings for cathodes, catalyst development, and passivation.
  • Additional comments by Prof. Hwang, on semiconductor applications of ALD. He was very bullish, saying that future DRAM generations will draw heavily on ALD, as no other technology can do what it does in terms of film quality and thickness and aspect ratio. He added fuel to the precursor discussion, pointing out that even similar compounds can produce very different results. He cited research comparing Ge(II) and Ge(IV), which have different valence charges; Ge(II) gave the right result, which is in line with our experience at Intermolecular. Hueng noted that if Ge(IV) is the only commercially available precursor, we are doomed — a strong message to chemical suppliers!
  • A group of people who discussed the emerging field of molecular level deposition (MLD). This process seeks to improve on the slow deposition rates of ALD, and can achieve 3-8

January 17, 2011 – EON: Enhanced Online News – BUSINESSWIRE — OMRON Corporation (TOKYO:6645)(ADR:OMRNY) will release the D6F-70, a 70L/min MEMS flow sensor optimized for measuring the gas flow rate of fuel cell systems. Omron also plans to release in FY2011 a similar MEMS flow sensor capable of measuring up to 200L/min.

These products will greatly enhance Omron’s MEMS flow sensor lineup.

Click to EnlargeThe D6F-70 MEMS Flow Sensor is capable of measuring up to 70L/min- an improvement of 20L/min from the current model- all with a very high level of accuracy thanks to Omron’s MEMS technology.

The detrimental effect of pump vibration has been reduced by 90% compared to existing models allowing a higher level of flow sensing accuracy. The D6F-70 70L/min flow sensor is almost the same size (84.6 × 32 × 30mm) as existing 50L/min sensors. This was made possible with a unique new flow structure.

OMRON added sensors with P14-type quick connectors to the series. It is the standard connector type for fuel cell systems in Japan and significantly reduces the time required for pipe connection work.

OMRON expects 200,000 units to be used in fuel cell systems in FY2013.

Such sensors are needed to control the 70L/min flow rate of air as it reacts with hydrogen in home-use fuel cell systems. With this new addition to the lineup, Omron can now provide flow sensors suitable for use in all home-use fuel cell systems. The new sensor is also available with a standard P14-type quick connector that enables easier connection to fuel cell systems.

Higher flow rate types are increasingly necessary for industrial-use high power generation fuel cells. Omron’s 200L/min type flow sensor scheduled for release in FY2011 will be able to meet the requirements of almost any type of fuel cell system. They will also enable wider usage in medical equipment applications, and are expected to open the door to a range of other new applications.

Fuel cells and other such environmentally friendly products are increasingly moving into the mainstream, and it is predicted that their use will become widespread globally in the near future. Our flow sensors improve the operational efficiency of fuel cells making them an even more attractive option for a wide range of applications.

Model number D6F-70AB71 
Flow range 0 to 70 L/min 
Medium Air 
Power supply DC10.4 to 26.4V 
Output DC1.0 to 5.0V 
Size 84.6 × 32 × 30mm
Accuracy ±3%F.S. at 25C. 
Operating temperature -10 to +60C. 
Operating humidity 35 to 85%RH (in ice-free, condensation-free conditions)

OMRON Corporation is a global leader in the field of automation. For more information, visit OMRON’s website at

Follow Small Times on by clicking Or join our Facebook group