It is common to underestimate the challenges of integrating the at least four technologies in any MEMS product: the three technologies of any semiconductor device (electronics, packaging and testing) plus the MEMS microstructure. For some specific areas of application, for example for photonics, optics technology/components must also be integrated. While traditional semiconductor devices utilize standardized and inexpensive packaging and testing procedures and equipment, MEMS require custom solutions that introduce multiple physical domains, such as light in the case of photonics, directly to a potentially moving structure on the die. This heightened complexity coupled with nonstandard packaging, testing and other (optics) technologies has a dramatic impact on functionality, reliability and cost.
Being developed and successfully proven for a period of about twenty-five years the System Approach to MEMS Commercialization is based on three major principles:
A priori understanding of the interdependence of technologies integrated into MEMS products: micro-machining, IC technology, packaging, testing and other (optics) technologies.
Parallel development or implementation of these technologies within the MEMS product.
Redistribution of manufacturing complexity from individual to batch realm. Integrating packaging and testing and other (optics) components into the microstructure and including some of the testing and functional algorithms in the ASIC reduce cost by simplifying more expensive individual manufacturing steps.
The overall results of redistribution complexity from individual manufacturing technologies into batch manufacturing technologies are dramatic cost reduction, performance and quality improvement and shorter time to market.