On Thursday 24 November 2016, the Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) Joint Undertaking announced the Lab4MEMS project as the winner of its 2016 Innovation Award during the European Nanoelectronics Forum held in Rome, Italy.
Lab4MEMS was identified as a Key Enabling Technology Pilot-Line project for next-generation Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) devices augmented with advanced technologies such as piezoelectric or magnetic materials and 3D packaging to enhance the next generation of smart sensors, actuators, micro-pumps, and energy harvesters. These technologies were recognised as important contributors to future data-storage, printing, healthcare, automotive, industrial-control, and smart-building applications, as well as consumer applications such as smartphones and navigation devices. The total cost of the project – EUR 28.2 million – was supported in part by funding from the ECSEL Joint Undertaking and by contributions from each of the respective national agencies: Italy, France, Malta, The Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Norway, Austria and Romania.
The University of Malta, represented by a team of academics and research support officers led by Prof. Ing. Joseph Micallef from the Department of Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics, was actively involved in a number of work packages. The University of Malta contributed to the design of a piezoelectric RF MEMS variable capacitor, AMR magnetometer test structures and an RF MEMS TPoS resonator. In addition, UM was also involved in the design of the electronics required to drive and test the MEMS devices. UM in close collaboration with STMicroelectronics Malta, was also involved in the development of packaging processes for MEMS devices and the setup of a pilot line for the production of new MEMS wafer level packages was investigated. In particular, UM contributed in the modelling, characterisation and testing of the finished MEMS products. UM also contributed to the validation of the KET pilot line technologies. UM together with the other partners coordinated a plan of dissemination, exploitation and standardisation. This work was published in three peer reviewed international conference proceedings and one special issue journal.
In accepting the award, Roberto Zafalon, General Project Coordinator of Lab4MEMS and the European Programs Manager in R&D and Public Affairs for STMicroelectronics Italy said, 'The ECSEL Innovation Award highlights the excellent results the Lab4MEMS team achieved through the project’s execution and the high impact of its successes. In particular, Lab4MEMS developed innovative MEMS solutions with advanced piezoelectric and magnetic materials, including advanced 3D Packaging technologies.'
In coordinating the 36-month Lab4MEMS project, STMicroelectronics Italy led the team of twenty partners, which included universities, research institutions, and technology businesses across ten European countries. ST’s MEMS facilities in Italy and Malta contributed their complete set of manufacturing competencies for next-generation devices, spanning design and fabrication to test and packaging to the project.