MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) devices are everywhere, from automobiles (airbag sensors, tire-pressure monitoring systems, vehicle stabilization control) to movie theaters and conference rooms (digital light projectors) and finally to your smartphone (motion sensor, microphones, etc.). These tiny powerhouse devices integrate the functionalities of gathering information (sensing) and making decisions (actuating) with the information processing power (microprocessor) of the integrated circuit. MEMS devices are primarily sensors, which do exactly what NIST mission supports: measurements.
An emerging field from the late 1990s into the 2000s, MEMS has grown into a mature industry, which is demonstrated by an active industry group (MEMS Industry Group, or MIG), roadmapping activities, and now the development of standards. Remarkably, MIG has been swift in taking the lead on standards once it became clear that the costs of device testing and calibration—as much as two-thirds of the total device cost—was expected to rise due to the increasing complexity of MEMS multimode (many sensors integrated together) devices. Efforts to produce testing standards have become a top priority.
On Feb. 20, the IEEE Standards Association and MIG announced that they have partnered to develop standards for MEMS device testing, which is a fundamental technology for eHealth and the Internet of Things. PML's Michael Gaitan of the Semiconductor and Dimensional Metrology Division (SDMD) provided key leadership guiding MIG in formalizing this standardization effort.
"MIG chose the IEEE Standards Association because of its reputation for standards in device performance specifications and the IEEE Electron Devices Society's reputation for its scientific conferences and publications in MEMS," Gaitan says. "We were also fortunate to have the support of Herbert Bennett (SDMD), who serves on the Board of Governors for the IEEE Standards Association."
The newly established IEEE Electron Devices MEMS Standards Development Committee held its first IEEE P2700™ Working Group meeting on January 31, 2014, in conjunction with the IEEE MEMS Conference. This landmark meeting was made possible with the support of Karen Lightman, executive director of MEMS Industry Group, and Ken Foust (Intel) Working Group Chair, and Co-Chair Carlos Puig (Qualcomm).
The working group's first order of business was to draft a terminology standard using MIG's Standardized Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions as a starting point.
"Such a terminology standard is the first step in a process that next proceeds to standard testing protocols," Gaitan explains. "This is an example of how the synergy between an industry group working together with a standards committee is efficient in building the consensus required to develop important and useful standards."