MEMS tested and certified by IECQ

Little components do more and are smaller

By Claire Marchand

In thousands of ways, new and smaller technologies are helping us move forward. From surgical tools that are smarter to toys that let us compete at playing tennis with someone around the world, electronics and their components are doing more than ever before.

MEMS accelerometers have many industrial applications MEMS accelerometers have many industrial applications

Smaller is better

Colossus, one of the first computers, was built by the British in World War II to break coded messages sent by the German High Command to the German armies throughout Europe. It used about 1 800 vacuum tubes to compute data. Bigger and more sophisticated versions were built before the end of the war in 1945.

At that time, this large set of computational machines was processing data as quickly as possible. Today, the equivalent data can be processed on a mobile device with the right programme because the transistors and vacuum tubes have been replaced by MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) as well as sensors, connectors, resistors, capacitors, semiconductors, LEDs (light-emitting diodes), and OLEDs (organic LEDs).

MEMS are defined by Forbes magazine as the miniaturized version of bigger components. They can be the size of a grain of pollen or a blood cell. And these mini components allow mobile technologies, cameras and video equipment as well as electronic clocks to be ever smaller.

These teeny components are manufactured in the same way as semi-conductors, which make them more exact in their design and they work better using less power. This fabrication process has led to thinner plasma televisions, smaller and lower cost computers as well as cars with lighter weight and better fuel efficiency.

The future of MEMS

As the use and study of MEMS move forward, MEMS are being used in more and more disciplines. The military uses sensor networks for unattended battlefield monitoring. Medicine is using MEMS for cell sorting, smaller and smaller surgical tools with smart sensors and toys are becoming smaller with more advanced sensors.

IECQ ensures component safety and reliability

Electronic component manufacturers and suppliers have a very powerful tool at their disposal to ensure that their MEMS, used as components, are safe, reliable and meet the strictest requirements: IECQ (IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components) testing and certification.

As the worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components, assemblies and associated materials and processes, IECQ tests and certifies components using quality assessment specifications based on IEC International Standards.

In addition, there are a multitude of related materials and processes that are covered by the IECQ schemes. IECQ certificates are used worldwide as a tool to monitor and control the manufacturing supply chain, thus helping to reduce costs and time to market, and eliminating the need for multiple re-assessments of suppliers.

MEMS accelerometers have many industrial applications MEMS accelerometers have many industrial applications...
...notably in the automotive industry sector (Image: IHS) ...notably in the automotive industry sector (Image: IHS)
Optical MEMS gas sensor Optical MEMS gas sensor