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Accelerating the nano revolution

The testing and inspection of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) components have been the most costly ­operations involved in the world of nano-scale manufacturing up until now. This no longer needs to be the case, however, as ZET Systems has developed a fully automatic quality control solution to reduce packaging and testing expenses significantly.

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) have the potential to revolutionise a very wide range of products and product categories by bringing together silicon-based microelectronics with micromachining technology, and making complete systems-on-a-chip possible. Up until now, however, the use of MEMS, and nanotechnology generally, has been concentrated in low- and medium-volume applications.

The challenges surrounding packaging and testing MEMS components have been one of the main obstacles preventing their wider adoption. The packaging of MEMS devices and systems, in particular, needs to be improved considerably.

Packaging MEMS components presents more challenges than IC packaging, for example, due to the diversity of MEMS devices and the fact that many of the devices concerned are in constant contact with the surrounding environment.

Quality control has typically been carried out manually, using microscopes and by comparing products against reference samples. This is both slow and inherently unreliable due to the possibility of human error. It is also expensive because of the extra clean room space needed for inspection facilities.

A new approach

These problems could well become a thing of the past now that ZET Systems, a leading supplier of automatic quality control solutions for demanding inspection needs, has developed a fully automated MEMS solution capable of handling up to 100% of quality inspection and packaging operations.

The new system includes a clean room, carrier handling automation, inspection optics, ZET QM software for inspection and quality data management, and a subsystem for handling defective components.

This automated approach offers three key benefits: reduced personnel expenses, better customer satisfaction due to more consistent product quality, and improved product yield.

By eliminating the traditional bottleneck associated with inspecting and packaging MEMS components, manufacturers will also be much better-placed to enter high-volume mass markets than they are today.

A ZET Systems’ imaging unit, combined with the company’s ZET QM quality control software, enables manufacturers to inspect contamination affecting MEMS components in Gel-Pak carriers, for example.

Even more to offer biomedicine

Biomedical MEMS applications have perhaps the most to gain from ZET Systems' automated inspection solution.

Comprehensive documentation throughout the complete manufacturing process is essential for controlling the safety of the components used in this area, and ZET's built-in database for quality and production data management needs really comes into its own here. Process and quality control data can also be fed into a company's computer network for onward usage as well.

> Mikko Koivuniemi
(Published in High Technology Finland )