ST leads European research project on next-generation optical MEMS

February 05, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
STMicroelectronics has disclosed that it is to take a lead role in Lab4MEMS II, an extension that builds on the continuing success of the existing Lab4MEMS project, announced in April 2013.

Lab4MEMS II focuses on Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS) that merge MEMS with Micro-optics to sense or manipulate optical signals using integrated mechanical, optical, and electrical systems, while the original project maintains its emphasis on developing a pilot line for next-generation MEMS devices augmented with such advanced technologies as piezoelectric or magnetic materials and 3D packaging. Like its sister project, Lab4MEMS II is being launched by the European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC) Joint Undertaking (JU), a public-private partnership in nanoelectronics.

Lab4MEMS II is a €26 million ($30 million) project with 20 industrial, academic, and research partners spread across nine European countries. Building on the established foundation and successes of the first Lab4MEMS project, the extension features ST as the coordinating partner, offering its complete range of manufacturing, technical, and organisational resources to Europe’s efforts to secure leadership in high-potential MOEMS.

The Lab4MEMS II project focuses on designing, fabricating, and testing a variety of devices that include optical switches, arrays of micro-mirrors, optical cross-connects, lasers, and micro lenses using micro-optics and standard micromachining technologies to miniaturise and build advanced optical systems. MOEMS is seen as a platform for future valuable commercial products, such as optical switches, micro-mirror devices and dynamic displays, bi-stable devices, and optical shutters useful in micro-projectors, laser micro-scanners, new-generation Human Machine Interfaces, and micro-spectrometers. One goal of the project is to optimise the production of dual single-axis mirrors as well as to research the possibilities for the development of the dual-axis single mirror.

Lab4MEMS II is a Key Enabling Technology (KET) Pilot-Line project contracted by the ENIAC JU to develop technologies and application areas with substantial societal impact.

The Pilot Line for Lab4MEMS II will expand ST’s operational 200 mm-wafer manufacturing facility in Agrate Brianza for higher volumes, while adding optical technologies to the mix. It would increase the know-how on those strategic enabling technologies while combining scientific skills and the ability to design and manufacture a wide range of smart micro- and nano-systems on silicon. The project will evaluate the potential benefits and impact of a future move to 300mm wafers.