Microelectronic mechanical systems (MEMS) are systems that use both mechanical and electrical components, or small integrated devices. MEMS are critical components in nearly every industry.
With the global consumer electronics market expected to exceed $1,500 billion by 2024, the growth of the MEMS market is rising steadily. As of 2015, the MEMS market had drawn $13 billion in revenue. Experts expect revenues to reach $26.8 billion by 2022, with the consumer MEMS market responsible for over 50% of growth.
MEMS are used in many different markets, driving innovation as well as consumer demand. The growing popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, smartphones, and portable electronics all contribute to the expected annual growth rate of 8.6% in the consumer electronics market, in which MEMS are a key player.
As the consumer electronics market continues to grow, glass wafer fabrication innovation is increasingly contributing to the advancement of MEMS technology. MEMS utilize glass wafer fabrication in wafer packaging, and glass wafers are also being employed as carriers in consumer electronics.
Glass wafer fabrication offers a range of unique benefits, making it an ideal option for various industries and applications.
The Advantages of Glass Wafers
Glass wafers are being used more and more often as a technological component of MEMS, as well as in other electronics applications as an alternative to silicone wafers. MEMS sensors and devices are relied upon for their high reliability and perfect functionality over extended periods, even when employed in harsh environments. Glass is commonly used in the packaging of MEMS, acting as a substrate carrier.
Glass wafers offer enhanced protection for these sensitive components, preventing corrosion and other damage. In fact, glass wafer packaging is becoming more common in MEMS technology due to the unique material properties of glass versus other wafer materials such as silicone or ceramic.
Below are a few key properties of glass wafer packaging that prove superior over those of silicone or ceramic wafers.
Glass is transparent, allowing bonding defects to be identified easily.
Glass allows for the use of temporary bonding polymers that require transparent substrate in optical processing for bonding and debonding.
Glass can endure high transition temperatures and a low thermal expansion point, allowing the glass wafer to maintain its dimensions when exposed to stresses due to construction and operation.
Glass wafers are composed of strengthened glass, offering great reliability when exposed to high pressures and temperatures.
Common Applications of Glass Wafers
Glass wafers are becoming more and more popular in MEMS and consumer electronics applications. In MEMS medical applications, glass wafers are often used as carrier substrates. Glass wafers are also used to facilitate gas-tight enclosures for MEMs in the medical device industry.
In consumer electronics, glass wafers are often used as carriers. In the manufacture of semiconductors used in electronic devices, glass wafers are frequently used as a substrate material due to their superior thermal stability and chemical resistance. Glass carriers can easily manage the stress of thermal expansion in semiconductor processes, reducing or eliminating stress issues caused by heat.
Glass wafers are also used as semiconductors in MEMS and sensors employed in IoT devices. Other common applications include LCD displays, touch control panels, solar cells, and electroluminescent displays.
The Versatility of Glass Wafers
As the MEMS and consumer electronics markets continue to grow rapidly, glass wafer fabrication is serving as a driving force. Innovative wafer packaging and other glass wafer applications are being integrated into the development of MEMS and other devices, and glass is proving a superior material choice across many applications and industries.
Image Credit: NosorogUA/Shutterstock.com