October 27, 2011 — Micro electro mechanical system (MEMS) pressure sensors have relatively high average selling prices (ASP) and a range of applications, making them to leading MEMS device by 2014, according to IHS iSuppli MEMS & Sensors Market Tracker.
Pressure sensors are climbing the MEMS device ranks thanks to "steady market expansion," said Richard Dixon, Ph.D., senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS. Currently, accelerometers and gyroscopes are the most popular MEMS devices.
The strong automotive resurgence post-recession kicked pressure sensor revenue to $1.22 billion in 2010, a 26% increase from 2009. 2011 growth will hit 6.6%, followed by a double-digit expansion in 2012. By 2014, revenue for MEMS pressure sensors will amount to $1.85 billion.
|Figure. MEMS pressure sensor revenues. SOURCE: IHS iSuppli October 2011.|
MEMS pressure sensor prices vary depending on the level of compensation and calibration of the die, as well as the MEMS packaging. MEMS pressure sensor designs use either a Wheatstone bridge arrangement (piezoresistive-type sensing) or capacitive sensing to detect deflation within the package. Both styles are popular, IHS reports. Medical and industrial MEMS pressure sensors sell between several dollars and tens of dollars. Highly specialized components for harsh environments, such as aircraft hydraulics, can sell in the hundreds, Dixon noted.
72% of MEMS pressure sensors (by revenue) are used in automotive applications in 2011; 11% go into medical electronics; and 10% serve the industrial segment. The remaining 6% is split between consumer electronics and military-aerospace devices.
Automotive pressure sensors are most popular for engine management (manifold air pressure sensors in petrol engines, common fuel rail pressure sensors for diesel cars). The sensors could also be used to improve combustion by measuring the exact stoichiometry within the engine cylinders. Tire pressure monitoring systems are also a major auto sensor application. One new automotive application is used in automatic transmissions, new double-clutch transmission systems, and manuals. Bosch recently entered this market with a MEMS solution in which the oil acts directly on the back of the silicon sensor (a so-called backside-entry design) with pressures of up to 70 bar.
In the medical market, pressure sensors are used mostly as low-cost disposable devices for catheters in surgical operations. More expensive versions suit pressure and differential flow monitoring in continuous positive airway pressure (CPAC) machines for treating sleep apnea. There is significant potential for implantable sensors from about 2015 onward.
Within the industrial sector, big segments for MEMS pressure sensors include the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sector, level measurements, and various industrial process and control applications. Aircraft, for instance, use the sensors to monitor engines, flaps and other functions, in addition to precision altitude air pressure measurement.
MEMS pressure sensors to date have not been used as much in the consumer electronics and mobile space, where their revenue is under $50 million today. For the mobile segment in particular, no major application has emerged so far. Among their diverse applications, however, are weather stations, sport watches, bike computers, diving equipment and pedometers, along with white goods — such as water-level sensors employed for energy-efficient washing machines.
See the IHS iSuppli MEMS & Sensors Market Tracker – Bring It On: MEMS Maintains Double-Digit Growth Through 2014 at http://www.isuppli.com/MEMS-and-Sensors/Pages/Bring-It-On-MEMS-Maintains-Double-Digit-Growth-Through-2014.aspx?PRX
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