In 2011, I declared that it was the "the year of MEMS" at SEMICON West in my MEMSblog, because last year, MEMS was everywhere! This year, not so much…
Donâ€™t get me wrong; I love going to SEMICON West. I keep coming back because itâ€™s like homecoming. I canâ€™t walk the halls of Moscone without bumping into dozens of colleagues and MEMS Industry Group (MIG) members. This year it was even more fun, because I was armed with hundreds of adorable MIG stickers that I emblazoned/bedazzled on every MIG member (and future member) I saw.
MEMS was definitely present at SEMICON West this year, and the MIG brand was stronger than ever. MIG had a fabulous MEMS Pavilion, with co-exhibitors IMT, IQE Silicon, n&k Technology, Oxford Instruments, and Xactix. The MIG member lounge inside the pavilion was always full of activity (and fun). The MEMS content on the first day — which I had the honor of moderating — "Taking MEMS to the Next Level: Transitioning to a Profitable High Volume Business" — was chock full of MIG member companies: Applied Materials, Coventor, Hillcrest Labs, NIST, Silex, Teledyne DALSA and Yole Developpement.
And I must humbly add that MIGâ€™s fifth annual member happy hour at LuLuâ€™s was THE BEST frickinâ€™ party at SEMICON West this year. Our party was rockinâ€™ and we have the Flickr photos to prove it. No need for caution in case you were worried: the photos are all clean and involve no mechanical bulls (pause for the inside joke). It was the best party I attended, and if you think your party was better then you better invite me to your party next year so I can be the judge!
But, sadly, hereâ€™s where I must address the feeling I had during SEMICON West that "the love is gone." Much of the content presented at the off-site conferences and workshops I attended had little or no mention of MEMS. And while the underlying reasons may be otherwise, I do wonder, in my heart of hearts, if the growing disconnect between MEMS and the semiconductor industry stems from the latterâ€™s embrace of the migration to 450mm.
To the delight of those who want to enter MEMS manufacturing — or for those who want to stay there — the move to 450mm is in no way a requirement. Companies can manufacture MEMS devices on 200mm wafers just fine, thank you. Does this explain why only a handful of stalwart MEMS device manufacturers were present? Is the zeal for 450mm on behalf of semiconductor equipment vendors (who dominate SEMICON West) responsible for the seemingly fair-weathered friendship between MEMS and the semiconductor industry at SEMICON West or is it an issue worldwide? Share your thoughts with me — and letâ€™s keep this discussion going.
Email Karen Lightman at [email protected]