µAC - linking MEMS to a giant world

Microsystem Accessory Consult - Dr. Lars Hanke is an engineering and consulting service for technology transfer projects. The main focus is set on the micro peripherials, i.e. the interface of MEMS and MOEMS to the established industrial standards and devices. µAC covers all of it: interfacing the MST devices, the system integration of MST devices, the automation technology for their production and quality control, and more. All technologies ranging from mechanics to optics, electronics, and software are covered by one single service. Microsystem Accessory Consult is located in Bonn, Germany. A region of 350 km is routinely served (The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France). However, µAC comes to where the challange is. Contact µAC and realise the possible!

1. Engineering MST peripherials

In the past decade lots of microsystem solutions (micro electro mechanical systems: MEMS or micro electro optical mechanical systems: MOEMS) have been created by scientists all over the world. Thousands of start-up companies invested time and money in the developement of a new technology field, the micro system technology: MST. Although the MST is the key for most new market technologies like bio-tech, IT, and nano mechanics the MST products only exist as core components. Microsystem Accessory Consult is dedicated to create devices from these components, which can be used by all established engineering and automotive industries.

Create electronical interfaces for MEMS

MEMS and MOEMS often have strange requirements for interface electronics. Due to the small size of MST components ranging on the so called meso scale from microns to nano meters, currents of pico amperes move femto coulomb charges at GHz RF frequencies, sometimes even at high voltages. These requirements are beyond the scope of standard analog circuit design. Microsystem Accessory Consult meets this challange and draws from the experiences of MST scientists where necessary. This is still too easy for you? Your interface electronics must be flexible, resistant to chemicals, and must fit on a stamp? Contact µAC and realise the possible!

Create optical interfaces for MOEMS

MOEMS usually contain one or more waveguides emitting very special modes which must be coupled to apertures like optical fibres or a display matrix. For light detectors this is the other way round. The propagation of laser modes creates strange intensity patterns. The accuracy of the optical alignment often needs to be better than 100 nm. There is a variety of means to cope with these requirements ranging from classical optics, tapered fibres, micro lens arrays to simply align a bare fibre. Microsystem Accessory Consult finds an optical interface which is suited for automated production. We find fast and reliable processes with minimal degrees of freedom and least failure dependence. Don't have your engineers package your devices. Contact µAC and realise the possible!

Control devices and interpret sensors with embedded systems

Does your temperature sensor read 104.3 MHz? Or is it even coded in the spectral with or even shape of some RF or light emission? Do you need to control 5 quantities for only 2 parameters? You don't really expect your customer to deal with the bare microsystem. Your customer likes e.g. a 4 mA to 20 mA current for his LPC and considers 10 kHz as high frequency. Microsystem Accessory Consult develops the full interface electronics, finds a suitable micro-controller or DSP, and extracts the relevant data into common formats and protocols. Too good to be true? Contact µAC and realise the possible!

2. Engineering MST production automation

Pricing is the main gap between MST and the consumer market. The whole industry production is performed by the hands of engineers or people individually trained by engineers. Performance, typical parameters, and yield are dependent on the person who manufactured the device. Quality assessment is done manually by the engineers themselves. Not even high class sports cars are manufactured like that. To be sure, this kind of production relates to the East-German Trabant. However, you will never come to mass production either way. Microsystem Accessory Consult analyses all process steps between the bare MEMS and the complete device. The process will be optimised for automation and total quality control in a computer integrated manufacturing ( CIM ) environment.

Find handling and alignment processes for MEMS and MOEMS

There are two key issues in MEMS handling: the positioning of MEMS and MOEMS during a process step and the transport from one process step to the next. There is a vast variety of aspects to address: design of carriers or boats, size of loads, tooling, third party delivery times and costs, just to mention a few of them. For any system beyond pure micro electronics none of these issues are finally settled. Microsystem Accessory Consult finds efficient solutions for your processes today and tomorrow. Where do yo want to be tomorrow?

Determine critical process parameters during packaging

Total quality management, ISO 9000, and computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) are today's keywords for all type of established production. With respect to MEMS and MOEMS even traditional companies are not certified, yet. A lot of well known companies do not even know where the key parameters of their production are and thus fail to control them. The lack of automation finally reduces the controlled fraction to an unrepresentative number. You might buy a $ 10,000 component that was never tested beyond basic operation during assembly. You would not allow this for a $ 0.10 transistor! Microsystem Accessory Consult gives you the complete service. The process is analysed, fault and tolerance dependences are evaluated, automated testing is engineered, missing hardware is developed, and the interface to your IT is established. Don't go for less! Contact µAC and realise the possible!

Find or create peripherials for automation

You won't need µAC, because your engineers found processes for assembly and quality control in their laboratories? Your engineers even created semi automated production sites? Did you ever think of full automated machines? Full automats are a completely different concept. The measurement systems used in the labs are usually not suited for automats. Beyond that, they are far too expensive, left alone their delivery times. The automated system wants specific hardware translating the MEMS to LPC or related signals. Even the commonly used industrial PC wants data in classical LPC formats for acquisition. Microsystem Accessory Consult tries to find appropriate solutions on the market. Since a lot of these devices still do not belong to stock goods, we will develop the missing hardware or software parts. Don't go for less - µAC.

Manage machine vision on micron scales

Dealing with MEMS and MOEMS classical engineering concepts fail. Any kind of mechanical stop or prealignemt is void due to milling and drillig tolerances. The most extraordinary results from your machine shop won't satisfy the least requirements of your production line. Essential for signal based active alignment is a sensible pre-alignment of all parts. Usually this can only be achieved by machine vision. Machine vision on micron scales on the other hand is a problem of its own, since you approach the refraction limit of resolution. Microsystem Accessory Consult covers both, the engineering of a sub-micron optical system and the software to find the necessary features. Contact µAC and realise the possible!

Simulate processes and failure dependence

Any time when more than two parts (e.g. two parts plus the gap in betwen) are assembled to form a device, there is a high chance that failures on one interface affect the process' quality at all subsequent interfaces. The dependences are not always intuitive. Some errors might automagically compensate, others might grow chaotically. In a lot of cases the correct specification of the assembly sequence, which rarely resembles left to right, or concepts of intermediate systems and stable subgroups can convert an unreliable process to a rock solid mass production. Microsystem Accessory Consult analyses your process for error dependences and searches for stable concepts. Don't go for less! - Contact µAC.

3. Integration of MST into your system

One of the basic principles of Microsystem Accessory Consult reads: a system is more than the sum of its components! However, integrating MST into systems often fails at the first step, the interface. You may build an interface using different concepts. The widely spread quick and dirty solutions let you enter a new market soon and at low costs. However, as your system evolves you will start tieing houses to trees. Costs explode for each tiny new feature and the component's reliabilty will drop. Imagine a system with ten components with 95% reliability, which is still pretty good. The system reliability drops below 60%! Microsystem Accessory Consult uses or defines simple open standards for all interfaces. This approach ensures future compatibility or extensibility. Just think of RS-232, which was defined 1969 and is still in use. To some extent it is the basic protocol of all networks. Think of the Unix operating system, which was created in the same early days and in the shape of Linux starts to dominate the global information highway. Will your product still be of use in 30 years? Will your product be of use to customers that you did not yet consider? Be ahead! - Contact µAC.

Interface MEMS and MOEMS to LPC

The standard in traditional automation is LPC. LPC itself is a simple, extensible open standard. You can be sure that some kind of LPC will control most machines in the decades to come as they did during the past 20 years. Interfacing your devices to LPC is a must. Microsystem Accessory Consult will do this for you.

Interface MEMS and MOEMS to industrial networks

Information technology (IT) is a popular word, but its concepts reveal completely new possibilities - not only on the internet. Distributed systems put the controller into the sensor or actuator itself. Thus saving masses of cabling and in addition minimizing the effects of the break-down of the central LPC. As a side effect noise induced faults are also minimized. The communication between the sub-systems is established by industrial networks like Devicenet, Profibus, Modbus, or industrial Ethernet. A lost of time and money is saved with exported machines that allow remote services. Can you adapt operational parameters in order to react on failures of third party components? Can you equip your service technician with the right spare parts before he leaves to the far east? Be ahead! - Contact µAC.

Engineer MST cores and key components

Microsystem based devices have poor descriptions due to a lack of experience in the majority of the possible applications. However, the promised prospects shown in magazines and on fairs sound tempting. Should half of these promises hold, it would make your product thrive. Microsystem Accessory Consult engineers the solution for your product. Realise the possible! - Contact µAC.

Analyse MST procpects and suitability

You are curious. Your products run better or worse, but some innovation could give you a boost in front of your competitors? Inspired by something you've read, seen or heard you've developed ideas, but they sound a lot like science-fiction? Remember, most science fiction was developed more than 20 years ago! Even beaming is nowadays somehow possible. You just have to ask for it. Realise the possible! - Contact µAC.

Simulate complex systems

A system is more than the sum of its components! This simple truth is both bless and doom of any system technology. Starting with principle physics and certainly not ending with modern PC which fail to operate once a day. Have you ever dared to ask, if the mode of operation of your product is a stable mode? Do you know machines that worked flawlessly for years and the next day for no clear reason refuse to work ever again? Did you honor one of your engineers for considerably increasing the system performance by slight changes of some parameter? The more complex a system the more pitfalls and potentials are involved. Both of them are hard to predict without a thorough analysis. Microsystem Accessory Consult analyses your system, finds the internal characteristic quantities, their dependences, and their relation to the relevant product specifications. Using computer models for numerical simulations the system can be analysed and optimised. Realise the possible! - Contact µAC.

4. Rent a scientist in technology

Microsystem Accessory Consult is devoted to all technologies migrating from scientific projects to products. We rely on three core competences: mixed-signal electronics, laser optics, and sophisticated numerical algorithms to be implemented on workstations or in embedded systems. We are strong at interdisciplinary application researches. Whatever project you dare, µAC will support you at any state. We browse through literature, give reports on maturity and feasability, and gather international teams of experts. Also, we find suitable third party products and skilled production sites. On your request, we will design scientific research programmes and find institutions to carry them through. Be ahead! - Contact Microsystem Accessory Consult.

Microsystem Accessory Consult, Aug. 2nd, 2001. - The webmaster