Menlo moves MEMS switch process to Silex foundry

November 19, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
Menlo moves MEMS switch process to Silex foundry
MEMS microswitch developer Menlo Microsystems Inc. (Irvine, Calif.) has ported its technology from an R&D facility to a 200mm wafer manufacturing line belonging to MEMS foundry Silex Microsystems AB (Jarfalla, Sweden).

Menlo Micro is a startup spun out of General Electric in 2016 that is also backed by Corning Inc., which supplies through glass via (TGV) technology to Menlo for its microswitches.

Menlo said is sampling product from this manufacturing line and will begin scaling up the production of its micro-mechanical switches before year’s end. It has already shipped 100,000 production units from its existing manufacturing line. The company's technology is typically used for RF and power applications

Menlo said it plans to use the expanded manufacturing capability to move into a broader array of end markets for systems in medical equipment, military communications, test and measurement instrumentation, industrial automation, 5G communications networks.

"In less than two years, we’ve been able to successfully transition our robust and reliable MEMS switch process from a research environment to a true production fab," said Chris Keimel, CTO for Menlo Micro, in a statement. "In this period of time, we have also achieved several key technical milestones, most notably the integration of Corning’s TGV substrates with Menlo’s MEMS switch process to deliver a miniaturized, chip-scale-package solution for our products. Scaling the process to an 8” production line is a significant step that brings size, cost, performance, and manufacturability improvements to Menlo’s DMS products – and demonstrates that the technology can indeed be scaled to commercial levels."

Menlo’s unique approach allows it to offer unprecedented power handling in a micromechanical device with superior electrical performance, size, cost, and reliability as compared to both traditional mechanical relays and solid-state devices.

Menlo's switches are built in a structure smaller than a human hair but are capable of handling kilowatts of power, while operating 1000 times faster and lasting 1000 times longer than typical mechanical relays, the company said.

By getting replacing wirebond loops with TGVs package parasitics are reduced by more than 75 percent, allowing support for switching of higher frequency signals, the company claimed.

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