Author Archives: Steve Breit

What’s the Next-Gen Litho Tech? Maybe All of Them

semimd_logoBy Jeff Dorsch

The annual SPIE Advanced Lithography symposium in San Jose, Calif., hasn’t offered a clear winner in the next-generation lithography race. It’s becoming clearer, however, that 193i immersion and extreme-ultraviolet lithography will co-exist in the future, while directed self-assembly, nanoimprint lithography, and maybe even electron-beam direct-write technology will fit into the picture, too.

At the same time, plasma deposition and etching processes are assuming a greater interdependence with 193i, especially when it comes to multiple patterning, such as self-aligned double patterning, self-aligned quadruple patterning, and self-aligned octuple patterning (yes, there is such a thing!).

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MEMS+ 6.0 takes on MEMS/IoT integration challenges

 Visualization of 3-axis MEMS gyro, courtesy of Murata Oy, simulated with MEMS+ model in MATLAB

Visualization of 3-axis MEMS gyro, courtesy of Murata Oy, simulated with MEMS+ model in MATLAB

We announced the release of the latest version of our MEMS+ design platform this week, MEMS+ 6.0. This release contains many new features and performance improvements that existing customers will appreciate as well as new capabilities that address key challenges of integrating MEMS with IoT devices. There’s far too much to talk about in one blog, so we will focus this one on why MEMS are critical to IoT and the key MEMS/IoT integration challenges MEMS+ 6.0 addresses. Subsequent blogs will expand on each of these challenges and our solutions. read more…

Modeling as a Foundation for TSensors Acceleration

By Steve Breit, VP Engineering
November, 2014

I gave a talk with the same title as this blog at the TSensors Summit held in La Jolla, California on November 12-13. The ‘T’ in TSensors stands for Trillion Sensors and the TSensors Summit initiative is addressing the provocative question: what will it take to get to a worldwide market of a trillion sensors a year in the not-too-distant future, say 10 to 15 years from now. The TSensors initiative is being spearheaded by serial MEMS entrepreneur Janusz Bryzek who cites the book Abundance by Peter Diamandes and Steven Kotler as inspiration for TSensors. The key premise behind the book is that technology is advancing at such a fast rate, exponentially in fact, that we have the opportunity to provide abundant food, clean water, renewable energy and health care for everyone on earth within a generation. This is heady stuff, especially compared to the doom and gloom that pervades the daily news (if only political and cultural differences were as easy to resolve). Sensors of all types will play a key role in technological solutions to these pressing worldwide challenges.
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MEMS+ 4.0: Removing the Barrier between MEMS and ASIC designers

By Steve Breit, V.P. Engineering
MEMS sensors never stand on their own – there’s always an accompanying ASIC that conditions the MEMS output or controls the MEMS. We’ve written frequently in past blogs and white papers about the barrier between MEMS and ASIC design teams. For purposes of functional verification, the ASIC designers need a MEMS block on their schematics, with an underlying model that captures the behavior of the MEMS. The problem arises because the MEMS and ASIC design teams use fundamentally different approaches to simulate the functioning of their respective designs. The MEMS designers use finite element analysis tools while the ASIC designers use analog/mixed-signal circuit simulators such as Cadence Spectre. There’s simply no way to include a conventional finite element model in a circuit simulator, and even if there was the simulations would run so slowly that it would have no practical use. To overcome this incompatibility, all MEMS companies that we’ve engaged with rely on handcrafting models of their MEMS devices in a hardware description language like Verilog-A that is compatible with the ASIC team’s circuit simulator. It takes lots of time, specialized knowledge, and skills to handcraft and verify a MEMS device model in Verilog-A. Because of the technical difficulty, handcrafted models are typically overly simplified, omitting important aspects of the MEMS behavior such as cross coupling between mechanical modes and non-linear effects. Moreover, an ongoing effort is needed to keep the handcrafted models in sync with the actual MEMS design, leaving plenty of opportunities for version skew and human error. The end result, undoubtedly, is extra design spins that are costly not only in engineering time, but in longer time to market. The graphic below illustrates this barrier.
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Our persistent quest for more accuracy, speed and capacity

By Steve Breit, V.P. Engineering

During a visit to a prospective customer a few months ago, a MEMS design manager told me that her philosophy is that a simulation is not worth doing if it takes more than two hours. I don’t want to focus on whether two minutes, two hours or two days is the right threshold, the point is that all engineers have a time limit on how long they’re willing to wait for simulations to complete. That said, two to four hours sounds about right to me as an upper limit. The question is: what should engineers do when they can’t achieve acceptable accuracy within their self-imposed time limit?
Sometimes the right answer is to buy a faster, bigger computer. Thanks to Moore’s law, computers are continually getting faster and cheaper. It’s amazing how much computing power can be purchased for $5,000 these days. That may be a very smart investment compared to the cost of engineering time, not to mention lost time-to-market opportunity, squandered by using inadequate computers. If only it was this simple. Engineers have this pesky habit of wanting to simulate ever more complex designs with more complex physics, and do it accurately. Thus the expectations for simulation tools continue to outpace the increases in computing power.
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Will there ever be a “standard” MEMS process?

By Steve Breit, V.P. Engineering

The lack of a standard MEMS process has long been bemoaned by those inside and outside the MEMS industry. Standard CMOS processes, after all, have been a key enabler of enormous growth in the ASIC market. If only MEMS could be more like CMOS…

To be sure, the MEMS industry has been making progress. Leading MEMS IDMs like ST, Bosch and Analog Devices have built whole product lines around their respective proprietary processes. Recently, major CMOS foundries like TSMC and GlobalFoundries have announced intentions to offer MEMS processing service. Presumably, they plan to offer standardized processes that will take them on the same path to success that they followed in the CMOS market. For now though, smaller MEMS-focused foundries appear to be leading the way.
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