The SMARTIEHS project removes the bottle neck in the production of MEMS and MOEMS - the quality test of the structures during and after production. SMARTIEHS develops a measurement system based on a parallel approach reducing the measurement time by the factor of interferometers in the system. On a 8 inch wafer a reduction of inspection time by a factor of 100 can be optained. Furthermore SMARTIEHS uses a multifunctional approach integrating different funcionality in one instrument.
The microsystems sensor and actuator marked (including MEMS) is predicted to grow at a rate of 16% per year from $12 billion in 2004 to $25 billion in 2009. The market segment MEMS will have alone $8.3 billion in 2007 2. Increased production capacity requires more time and cost effective production equipment, along with efficient pre-industrial validation processes. The bottle neck in MEMS production is testing for quality control, in particular where 100% quality control is required. The testing equipment is expensive; an automatic waferprober with a state of the art measurement unit and accurate simulation can cost as much as € 0.5M to 1 M 1.
This is clearly a barrier for European SMEs which want to enter the growing global market of MEMS. To succeed in a growing market companies need to shorten their time-to-market. Addressing the testing-bottle neck is therefore compulsory. Shortening the process optimisation through multi-parameter characterisation of the M(O)EMS structures strongly contributes to reducing time-to-market. SMARTIEHS will secure European companies access to a more reliable, faster, versatile, smart testing process which is undoubtedly a competitive advantage for these companies in the MEMS market.
As the market for MNT and therefore for MNT test equipment is rapidly growing, there are distinct opportunities for companies developing new test equipment for new application fields. This market area is rapidly changing, so the suppliers need to align themselves with customers who understand and foresee technology changes. This alignment is strengthened when in a certain area and supply chain is “complete”; where process specialist, R&D organizations, (test) equipment suppliers and major users share a common technology platform. Particularly the smaller companies will and can benefit from these shared technology platforms.
The challenge for the test equipment suppliers will be to develop generic testing platform able to be adopted to a wide range of applications, combining the benefits of volume with the need for customer specific properties. A good example of this is wafer testers for the semiconductor industry: the basic set up (handling and positions the wafers) is generic, whilst the probe cards and the electronic equipment is customer specific.
enableMNT Industry Reviews,Dec 2004
SMARTIEHS addresses all challenges given above.
Passive M(O)EMS-testing (i.e. x-y-(z) dimensions) is usually done by microscopic camera systems and image processing. Active M(O)EMS-testing (e.g. resonance frequencies, displacements) is carried out using interferometers and vibrometers.
Today’s state-of-the-art in high volume production is scanning systems used for 100% quality control on the wafer level. These systems inspect each M(O)EMS-structure individually using translation stages to move the inspection system from structure to structure.
Today’s serial approach in state-of-the-art inspection systems is a time consuming, inflexible and expensive process:
- Each inspection task requires separate test station – high investment costs, requires large clean room spaces
- The reprogramming of the test stations when changing the product specifications is time consuming and cost ineffective.
- The alignment procedure of the M(O)EMS wafer is time consuming.
- Each change of test parameters (e.g. functionality) require new test equipment
The motivation of the SMARTIEHS project is to address the heart of manufacturing process creating a revolutionary testing solution which will make today’s serial testing approach obsolete, launching a 100 times faster, intelligent and parallel testing approach. This will considerably reduce the measurement time per wafer, shorten the production time, reduce time-to-market and enhance the quality of European M(O)EMS products.