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LAB4MEMS
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Lab4MEMS is a research and development (R&D) project funded by the European Community under the ENIAC Nanoelectronics Framework aiming to establish a European Pilot Line for key enabling technologies on advanced piezoelectric and magnetic materials, including advanced 3D Packaging technologies to meet the ever evolving market needs. The Pilot Line is promoted to reinforce the manufacturing facilities currently located in each respective participating country, aiming to implement and optimise the industrial processes and to validate the supply chains and the demonstrators suitable to penetrate the market. The main industrial Pilot Line is located in ST-Microelectronics among Italy and Malta, well supported by R&D Centres, SMEs and Research Labs distributed among the nine European countries of the consortium, streaming the whole manufacturing chain from front-end to back-end. The project has started on January 2013 and will run for 30 months.

The University of Malta (UoM) is actively involved in a number of work packages (WP). In WP2, UoM is contributing in the design of a piezoelectric RF MEMS variable capacitor and AMR magnetometer test structures. In addition, UoM is also involved in the design of the system architecture, including the electronics necessary to drive and test the MEMS devices. UoM is also involved in WP4, where packaging processes for MEMS Devices and the setup of a pilot line for production of new MEMS Packages are being investigated. In particular, UoM will be contributing in the characterisation and testing of the finished MEMS products. In WP5, UoM is contributing in the validation of the KET-pilot line technologies. UoM is also involved in WP6, whose aim is to elaborate and coordinate a plan of dissemination, exploitation and standardisation.


RF MEMS Variable Capacitor


The conceptual design of a RF MEMS variable capacitor was analysed in collaboration with Cavendish Kinetics (CK). CK manufactures such devices for mobile phone antenna tuning applications. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of proposing piezoelectric actuation as an alternative to the currently employed electrostatic actuation. The University of Malta was engaged in carrying out extensive finite element simulations on different designs using Coventorware, which is a MEMS CAD tool. These simulations were crucial in determining whether the actuator target specifications could be met.

rfcap

Test Structures for Anisotropic Magneto Resistive Sensor Design


Anisotropic magneto-resistive (AMR) sensors are magnetic field sensors that are gaining market in the MEMS development sector since they provide new functionality to electronic mobile equipment. They consist of a permalloy thin film that has been deposited under a strong magnetic field. This gives the material an easy axis along which the material is magnetized. When a field is applied along the sensing axis (perpendicular to the easy axis), the magnetic field inside the sensor is rotated which in turn causes a change in the resistance. By measuring this change, the magnitude of the magnetic field can be deduced. UoM is contributing towards the design of an AMR based integrated compass for mobile devices. This research consists of designing structures that will be used to test and measure the permalloy film properties and the sensor characteristics. The finished structures will then be used by the sensor design team in order to produce a fine tuned integrated compass.


AMR3


This work is intended to produce several AMR test structures (e.g. Van der Pauw structures shown above) that will be used to standardise the testing and characterisation of integrated compasses. This will provide the AMR compass designers with a proper technique for evaluating and characterising their products. Amongst the proposed tests one may mention: measurement of the sheet resistance of permalloy and other metals; measurement of the maximum variation of the resistivity throughout wafer and measurement of permalloy magnetic properties. During this work, two fabrication runs are being proposed. One will be oriented to the characterisation of the process properties and the other will be oriented towards the optimisation of the sensor shape.


mcst2


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Last Updated: 16 December 2013

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