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    ST ramps production of smartphone MEMS sensors

    STMicroelectronics has said it is increasing its MEMS production capacity to more than 3 million sensors a day by the end of the year.

    "We are beefing up our manufacturing machine to anticipate and encourage the adoption of MEMS into such high-growth markets as healthcare, industrial and automotive,” said  Benedetto Vigna, group vice president and general manager of ST's MEMS sensors business.

    Chip level motion and orientation sensors, referred to as MEMS or micro-machined systems, are being intergetd into many consumer and industrial products and market demand for the chips is growing.

    MEMS sensors are used in motion-activated user interfaces in smartphones, tablets, personal media players and game consoles.

    Computer manufacturers use MEMS acceleration sensors for free-fall protection in laptop hard-disk drives and car makers use MEMS in applications such as airbags and enhanced navigation systems.

    ST started producing MEMS devices on 8-inch silicon wafers in 2006 which reduced the cost of the technology.

    Main manufacturing facilities, where ST MEMS are produced, include Agrate and Catania, Italy (sensor fabrication), Rousset and Crolles, France (logic die production), and Kirkop, Malta and Calamba, Philippines (assembly and testing).

    ST's MEMS sensors are fabricated on the company’s THELMA (Thick Epi-Poly Layer for Microactuators and Accelerometers) surface micro-machining process, which combines variably thick and thin poly-silicon layers for structures and interconnections.

    It is used for manufacturing both accelerometers and gyroscopes.

    The complementary VENSENS ('Venice Sensor') process allows the integration of a cavity into mono-crystalline silicon, which is used for producing small pressure sensors.

    See: Opto, discrete and sensor markets growing fast this year