Japan MEMS Industry Update

Japan MEMS Industry Update

By Yoichiro Ando, SEMI Japan

According to a research conducted by Yole Développement, the worldwide MEMS market in 2014 was more than US$11 billion, growing to reach $20 billion by 2020 with 30 billion shipped units.

This MEMS market growth is driven primarily by the demand for smartphone and automobile applications. For smartphones, MEMS technologies are used in the devices, such as gyro sensors, acceleration sensors, microphones, and RF switches. The sales of these devices dramatically increased with the expansion of the smartphone market. For automobiles, MEMS technologies are needed in acceleration sensors and gyro sensors which are critical for air bag systems and drive and body control systems, and pressure sensors that are increasingly used in fuel supply systems and power trains.

Yole announced the top 30 MEMS manufacturers in 2015, which includes 10 Japanese manufacturers: DENSO, Panasonic, Canon, Asahi Kasei Microdevices, Murata Manufacturing, Alps Electric, ROHM Semiconductor, Sony, OMRON, and Epson.

This report covers updates on the above and other active MEMS players in Japan.

1. MEMS for Automobiles

  • Panasonic’s MEMS business is operated by its Automotive & Industrial Systems Company. The main products are gyro sensors, acceleration sensors, pressure sensors, and infrared sensors that use MEMS tuning forks. Additionally, the company is developing new systems using MEMS technologies for medical applications.
  • DENSO is manufacturing acceleration sensors for automobile electrical systems. In particular, advanced MEMS technologies are applied to the acceleration sensors that are used in safety systems such as air bag systems, vehicle stability control (VSC), and antilock brake systems (ABS). DENSO also supplies pressure sensors.

2. MEMS Mirrors

  • Sony manufactures MEMS mirrors that are used for projectors. Sony also supplies imaging elements that utilize MEMS technologies as the core device for large scale laser projection. Sony also offers MEMS foundry services in addition to their own products.

3. Electronic Compasses

  • Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) is a major manufacturer who supplies electronic compasses (3-axis magnetic sensors) that utilize hall element technologies in consumer devices like smartphones.
  • Aichi Steel has been collaborating with ROHM since 2013 to manufacture MI elements, which are the core MEMS component for electronic compasses.

4. Inkjet Printer Heads

  • Canon applies the photolithography and other semiconductor manufacturing processes along with its own proprietary technologies to fabricate ink injection components on a silicon wafer uniformly and highly precisely including heaters, drive circuits, and nozzles.
  • Seiko Epson manufactures, in addition to inkjet printer heads, compact quartz crystals and crystal oscillators using their quartz materials-based proprietary MEMS technology, “QMEMS.” Furthermore, Seiko Epson develops and manufactures super compact gyro sensors that are 2mm x 2mm through the application of this technology.

5. MEMS Microphones

  • OMRON manufactures various MEMS products including flow sensors, non-contact temperature sensors, pressure sensors, vibration sensors, and microphones. OMRON also provides the core technology for MEMS microphones to STMicroelectronics.
  • New Japan Radio is enhancing the MEMS microphones business that has started volume production in August 2013. Besides manufacturing them at factories in Japan, the company is also outsourcing production to a Taiwan foundry, UMC.

6. Electronics Components Manufacturers

  • TDK was outsourcing the MEMS device manufacturing, such as pressure sensors to external foundries. However, they are converting their electronic components manufacturing line in Kofu to a MEMS manufacturing line. TDK recently announced the acquisition of a French MEMS manufacturer, Tronics Microsystems, in July 2016 that manufactures temperature sensors, pressure sensors, and sensors based on magnetic/TMR.
  • Murata Manufacturing supplies MEMS gyro sensors and magnetic sensors for car navigation systems. In 2011, the company acquired a Finnish MEMS company, VTI Technologies Oy (currently Murata Electronics Oy) and expanded its product portfolio to include various sensors for automobile and medical applications. Murata Electronics Oy has a large market share in acceleration sensors for the automobile electronic stability control systems.
  • Alps Electric manufactures and supplies MEMS devices such as gyro sensors, pneumatic sensors, and pressure sensors.

7. Other MEMS Manufacturers

  • ROHM manufactures acceleration sensors, gyro sensors, and pressure sensors based on the thin-film piezoelectric elements (piezo). Furthermore, ROHM is developing a MEMS foundry business that utilizes this element. In 2009, ROHM acquired a U.S. MEMS company, Kionix, that manufactures acceleration sensors.
  • Fuji Electric supplies MEMS foundry services and develops gyro sensors as their own products.
  • Hitachi/Hitachi Group manufactures MEMS airflow sensors, pressure sensors, acceleration sensors, gyro sensors, and flow sensors for automobiles. The Hitachi Group also offers MEMS foundry services.
  • The other MEMS manufacturers in Japan include Yokogawa Electric (various MEMS). Mitsubishi Electric (acceleration sensors and RF-MEMS for air bag systems), Fujitsu (RF-MEMS and laser MEMS) and Toshiba (RF-MEMS).

To connect to the Japan MEMS supply chain and above players, SEMICON Japan will offer many opportunities to both MEMS manufacturing equipment and materials suppliers and MEMS device manufacturers who seek for suppliers and partners in Japan. Plan to exhibit or participate in SEMICON Japan (December 14-16) in Tokyo. For more information, visit www.semiconjapan.org.

Follow SEMI on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

Global Update
September 27, 2016