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05/11/2015

MEMS sensors will overpass legacy technologies

Munich, the 4th of November 2015, Patrick Gougeon, Colibrys CEO, presented at AIRTEC congress his vision about high-end MEMS sensors. Future and potential MEMS sensors will soon reach or even outperform the performance of current established technologies in the aerospace market, thus bringing a significant step forward in terms of cost, weight, size and power consumption.

“We have today everything in our hands to make this dream come true” he said. “Thanks to Safran Electronics & Defense (Safran), we have now access to the network, power and resources of a large group with world class skills in inertial sensors and the methodology to make it happen.”

Indeed, Colibrys’ conviction is that unmatched performance (less than 10 ppm bias stability on accelerometer, and 1 °/h full bias on gyrometer) will be reached in the following decade.

“The hurdles are not at the same place than 15 years ago”, he said. “In the year 2000, few companies were mastering the art of MEMS process engineering. Today, there are probably more than 70 companies and labs in the world that have access to the best processes”. However, the claimed hypothesis is that the new barriers are quite real and hard. “Now, we understand that in order to push the limits, we need to start from the very conception of the sensor from its physics and not only try to replicate existing sensors with a much smaller silicon footprint. This requires top notch sensor designers to work together hand-in-hand with MEMS designers, firstly to reach new performances level, secondly to do it with an industrial-grade yield and economic considerations”.

Indeed, many designers are currently struggling to reach industrial maturity. “It is one thing to make a prototype, it is another thing to produce 100’000 units per year with a yield over 80% while guaranteeing signal stability over a 20 years lifetime”, added Patrick Gougeon. “At the same time, we need to redesign our internal development process and manufacturing set-up so that our sensors can be considered DAL-A capable at the system level; before 2013. this constraint and what it meant were merely known at Colibrys, and it still is in a large number of competing SME companies; indeed, the next generation of MEMS will have to be qualified so to be selected into DAL-A certified systems. The integration into Safran Group has changed dramatically our understanding of such issues and gave us a new asset and the means that goes with it”.

“The next decade will be exciting for the high-end MEMS”, he concluded.

The presentation will soon be available on our website. Stay tuned!

Patrick Gougeon, CEO Colibrys

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