SAN JOSE, Calif. Memscap SA (Grenoble, France) is making available a library of inductors based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for the wireless market.
The parts are meant to replace multiple passives typically found alongside RF chips in devices such as cellular phones. By integrating passive components, Memscap claims to be making one-chip RF devices possible.
The MEMS-based inductors are provided almost like silicon cores. Memscap licenses the manufacturing processes to insert its structures atop existing silicon circuitry, using a copper-on-insulator process and flip-chip assembly.
In the case of inductors, the volume-production nature of the process turns out to be cheaper than adding discrete parts.
"Each inductor [under our process] would cost about 10 cents. You can't find anything [in a discrete inductor] less than 15 cents," said Jean-Michel Karam, president and chief executive of Memscap. "We have people who asked us to deliver these inductors separately, as a surface-mount package."
The inductors are available now in library form, meaning Memscap will transfer the manufacturing technology to a customer's fab or foundry. Memscap also can be hired to add the inductors to wafers through its foundry partner, PHS-MEMS.
Caps come next
In July, Memscap plans to offer tunable capacitors using the same add-on process.
The company is separately working on an optical cross-connect along the lines of the micromirror structures announced by companies such as Xros Inc. or Optical Micro Machines Inc. Memscap is producing 2 by 2 parts for "a major U.S. telecom company" and is working on larger parts, hoping to develop an easily reproducible manufacturing process for them.