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SensorDynamics AG and ISIT set new standards in developing and producing complete microsystems

The higher the number of electronic components employed in a car or in industrial plants, the greater the importance consequently placed on the integration of the single modules. Inevitably, there is now an increasing demand by the automotive industry towards their suppliers for complete sensor systems that not only provide measurements but also include signal processing, interface ICs and data transmission. And needless to say these systems should also be more reliable, smaller, lighter and less costly than current market solutions.

This trend has been taken on as a great challenge by Hubertus Christ, CEO of SensorDynamics AG founded in 2002. To be able to meet these ever increasing demands now and in the future, it will not be sufficient merely to develop new sensor structures and innovative circuit designs. In fact, there is a need for a radical paradigm shift. Christ is sure that 'expensive failures will be almost unavoidable without a thorough vertical system integration“. SensorDynamics AG is thus not only an expert partner for development, but also a general contractor assuming responsibility for the entire production implementation and the high-volume mass supply to the end customer. Mathematical modellations, simulations and emulations are done over several cycles to asses all characteristics of the micro-sensor systems as accurately as possible. Development is carried out at the same time as mass production is being implemented. Because according to Christ, product suitability for production always needs to be considered, as experience has shown that high quality cannot be obtained otherwise.

A close cooperation with Tier Ones and OEMs on the one hand and partners such as Fraunhofer ISiT, Cadence, TSMC, STMicroelectronics, ASE, Teradyne and Multitest on the other has resulted in innovative, highly customized products, including a micro-electro-mechanical inertial sensor module that was developed within only 24 months. This sensor is fabricated at the Fraunhofer ISiT in a surface micro-mechanical process using approx. 10 µm thick polysilicon as structural material, and the complicated signal processing algorithms are implemented in highly integrated ASICs using state-of-the-art CMOS technology. With its cost-effective polymer-based packaging, this sensor meets all specifications of an intricate system and also features impressive performance criteria.

The director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology in Itzehoe, Prof. Dr. Anton Heuberger, believes this example of a micro-electro-mechanical inertial sensor module to be yet another example of the importance of cross-boundary cooperation for achieving fast time to market, especially in the field of microsystem technology. 'There is no doubt that thanks to our long experience in the field of MEMS, prototyping has speeded up rapidly. However, compared to other production lines the ISiT is also equipped to produce the components on its own lines at mass-production scale. What's more, these lines comply with the most stringent quality requirements of the automotive industry. Boasting production capacities of up to 300,000 wafers a year, the ISiT and SensorDynamics AG already belong to Europe's high-capacity suppliers of state-of-the-art, technological intricate microsystems.

Jürgen Tittel, Vice President Business Development of SensorDynamics AG, is also quite optimistic about the future given the mutual success already achieved and yearly growth rates of 25 percent predicted for the international market for micro-sensors. 'With our inertial sensor module we have shown that we can offer our customers long-term competitive advantages thanks to a full vertical system integration and development close to the market. We believe that we will achieve similar success with products currently under development, including a multi-dimensional acceleration sensor, which is planned to be integrated into an inertial measurement unit (IMU) with

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