MEMS & Nanotechnology
MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) are a specialized field referring to technologies that are capable of miniaturizing existing sensor, actuator, or system products. Nanotechnology is a growing field that uses the unique properties of ultra-small scale materials to an advantage. Nanoparticles in skin crèmes and clothing and are recent examples of how nanotechnology is being used in our everyday lives. Exponent’s consultants have many years of real-world industry experience in both proactive and reactive issues related to the development of these emerging technologies.
Exponent provides a full range of services to assist clients with their MEMS or nanotechnology-enabled product development. We specialize in providing rapid, focused, market-sensitive solutions to complex issues such as:
- Design reviews and manufacturing analysis
- Product characterization
- Failure analysis
- Yield enhancement
- Reliability and feasibility studies
Additionally, our team assists in litigation support with issues related to the MEMs and nanotechnology market. We assist with technology due diligence, intellectual property assessment, patent reviews, IP landscape for new product introduction, and identification of potential product problems. Exponent has many years of evaluating the scientific basis of patent prosecutions and handling technical evaluations for patent infringement disputes related to MEMS and Nanotechnology.
Our consultants utilize real-world industry experience in development of emerging technologies, process support, failure analysis, product characterization, yield enhancement, and reliability and qualification methodologies.
Design Analysis and Modeling
Exponent’s engineers perform design analysis, multi-physics modeling such as coupled electro-thermo-mechanics, micro-fluidics analysis, two-phase flows, and system level reduced order modeling, controls system analysis, optimization, device-package interaction, and failure analysis. We can also help with product redesign for new fabrication processes or new applications.
Process Design and Manufacturing, Foundry Relations
We have experience with process design, foundry selection and management for prototype to volume manufacturing. Our expertise includes implementation of Design-for-Manufacturability (DfM) yield enhancement methodologies, yield analysis and root cause identification, materials science-based characterization, test structures for process enhancement, equipment data analysis for failure mode fingerprinting, wafer mapping, defect density determination, process development support, and R&D to volume production support.
Reliability Physics Services
Exponent scientists perform design and implementation of reliability testing programs and qualification strategies. The FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) technique is a very good method to summarize all processing and design information in a matrix format. Reliability impacts will be included in this effort. Reducing wafer fab defect densities, optimizing wafer processing, and using design-for-manufacturability and reliability methodologies can quickly result in yield improvements. Reducing time from concept to product introduction is key to a successful MEMS or Nanotechnology product. Early introduction to the marketplace can be precarious if the reliability issues are not well understood. The product must be ready and have demonstrated reliability prior to customer acceptance. We can provide expertise in:
- Accelerated life testing under controlled environments and temperatures
- Acceleration factor model development
- Mechanical shock and vibration response analysis
- Fatigue testing
- Stiction testing, wear testing, tribology
Characterization and Failure Analysis Services
Growth in the micro- and nano-engineering industry has led to increased demand for analytical and characterization methods for these materials and systems. For example, nano-products with high surface area-to-volume ratios are more sensitive to impurities and microcontamination during processing than larger geometry products, resulting in defects and yield loss in production. New manufacturing methods, materials and processes generally have the same concerns that previously existed for advanced technologies (e.g., cleanliness, contamination, yield, reliability, etc.). Exponent has a unique characterization capability: we make scanning electron microscopy movies of moving structures under actuation.
We have experience with advanced dimensional metrology – using optical and electron microscopy, Zygo (white light interferometry), etc.; Mechanical material properties (devices or films) – modulii, Poissons ratio, stress gradients, & residual stress; MEMS structure and thin-film CDs, cross-sectional analysis, surface profiles, across-wafer variability; nanoparticle surface area, nanoparticle size distribution, nanoparticle surface charge, and nano-composition.
We can assist with package selection, package design qualification, based on hermetic, plastic molded, wafer encapsulation, wafer-level packaging, or COTS packaging. Our packaging expertise includes: hermetic, wafer capping, wafer level packaging, plastic mold packaging; wafer bonding, wire bonding, flip chip, die attach materials, chip on board, and fab-friendly materials solutions.
Technology Acquisition and Patent/Intellectual Property Evaluations
We assist with technology due diligence, intellectual property assessment, patent reviews, IP landscape for new product introduction, and identification of potential product problems. Exponent has many years of evaluating the scientific basis of patent prosecutions and handling technical evaluations for patent infringement disputes related to MEMS and Nanotechnology.
Enable companies to make a decision to pursue implementing an MEMS and Nanotechnology enabled solution compared to other competitive solutions. Conceptual design evaluation and assessment of its viability as an MEMS and Nanotechnology enabled product.
Nanotechnology Health Risk Evaluation
Materials science can aid in evaluating manufacturing-related operational health exposure during production and throughout product lifetime through relatively simple testing. Our health science professionals assist in determining how exposure may vary, both from the standpoint of product-to-product variability, as well as any changes over time, such as due to wear or weathering. By leveraging existing knowledge of the properties of resins and binders in products, a design for reliability methodology can be used to formulate products that retain NPs. This will aid in “engineering safety” into products before they hit the market, ensuring that these products eliminate or minimize exposure.