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STMicroelectronics-Led Partnership to Advance Lab-in-Fab Piezoelectric MEMS

STMicroelectronics has collaborated with Institute of Microelectronics (IME), a Singapore-based research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and ULVAC, Inc., a Japanese manufacturing-tool vendor, to jointly set up and operate an 8-inch (200mm) research and development (R&D) line focused on piezo micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. It will rise within ST's existing manufacturing facility in Singapore.

The new line, which will be also called as "Lab-in-Fab" R&D line, brings together three partners with leading-edge and complementary competencies in piezo materials, piezo MEMS technologies, and wafer-fab tools to boost innovation and accelerate development of new materials, process technologies, and ultimately, products for industry customers.

The Lab-in-Fab consists of a new cleanroom area within ST's Ang Mo Kio campus and will host tools and dedicated resources from the three parties, which include MEMS R&D and process scientists and engineers. IME's knowledge base and industrial drive in piezo-MEMS device design, process integration, and system integration will add value to the development of the line.

IME will also contribute state-of-the-art tools to help ensure a smooth product flow through to production, all within the same location. The new R&D line will also leverage existing ST resources, benefiting from the economies of scale of ST's wafer fabs on the same campus. The Lab-in-Fab facility is forecast to be ready and operational with first wafers in Q2 2021 and volume production at the end of 2022.

"We want to build the world's leading R&D center for Piezo MEMS materials, technologies, and products with IME and ULVAC, with whom we have been working for a long time. This world first will be hosted in our Singapore site, a strategic location for ST," said Benedetto Vigna, President, Analog, MEMS and Sensors Group, STMicroelectronics. "The Lab-in-Fab will offer our customers the capability to more easily go from a feasibility study to product development and high-volume manufacturing."

This collaboration enhances the existing manufacturing-process portfolio of ST Singapore and will accelerate the adoption of Piezo MEMS actuators in promising new fields of application, including MEMS mirrors for smart glasses, AR headsets and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems, Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers (PMUT) for emerging medical applications, and piezo heads for commercial and industrial 3-D Printing.