2013 MEMS Commercialization Report Card, Part 5: Standards & Roadmaps

Roger H. Grace, Guest Contributor

In this fifth episode of the 2013 MEMS Commercialization Report Card, we will look into two important topics that continue to have significant influence on the successful commercialization of many technologies, including MEMS: standards and roadmaps. The topics are tightly interrelated to industry associations (EPoSS, iNemi, MANCEF, MIG and SEMI) since industry associations have historically been major supporters of standards and roadmap creation. I have recently interviewed the leaders of several key industry organizations to create information that is presented here.


Grade Analysis

2013 Grade= C+, 2012 Grade= C, Change= +1, Standard Deviation= 1.8 (based on 85 inputs), Historical Standard Deviation= 0.87 (based on grades from 2002 to 2013)

Report Card 2013 Standards


"The creation and adoption of standards increase market access and acceptance, promotes communication within and across industries, enables faster commercialization and interoperability, accelerates product development, simplifies installation and testing, reduces costs as well as protects users and the environment" stated Mr. Paul Trio, SEMI's Senior Manager of North American Standards during a recent interview. I personally have been involved in the creation of MEMS standards for over a decade when I and my colleagues would meet at Semicon Europa. The major problem with the meeting was that there were many vendors of capital equipment and Silicon wafers but virtually no users. And we all know that if standards are to be of value, there needs to be input from the suppliers as well as users. As a result, there was not significant progress mad.

I believe that the progress for MEMS standard development has been slow since those days with only 10 standards with SEMI MS1 – SEMI MS10 being developed by SEMI since that time. The lack of user participation in standards appears to continue to exist to this day.

Several organizations have stepped up to the plate to attempt to join SEMI in the facilitation of creating standards, namely the MEMS Industry Group, IEEE, iNemi, NIST, and MEMUNITY. While I believe that because of the uniqueness of MEMS processing, it is much more difficult to create and widespread adopt standards for all MEMS processing, materials, and testing. Major successes in MEMS standards will come from areas where they share a great deal of technology with the semiconductor industry since there are over 900 standards in the SEMI portfolio covering a broad range of semiconductor processing, material specifications, and testing.

I believe that the adoption of standards is good for MEMS users and less for MEMS makers because of the proprietary processes that they own. This is a major reason why I believe the progress of MEMS standards creation has been slow in evolving. In addition to the previously mentioned standards, IEEE has recently published its P2700 standard that addresses MEMS terminology.

The SEMI MEMS standards address definitions, testing and material standards where IP is not at risk and people can share pre-competitive information. This is where standards need to continue to focus in order to achieve success and facilitate industry adoption. Additionally, the 900 plus standards that have been adopted by the SEMI community need to be further assessed as to their relevancy to MEMS. This approach will take the least amount of time to facilitate the adoption of these related standards by the MEMS community.


  • At least things got started with standardizing some things around how specifications should look. A least it's a start.
  • I'd have given it a D except for the incipient standards that are peeking their heads out.
  • Too many diverse products.
  • Limited progress so far but the tide is changing. More people are getting on board, but those who don't will miss out on revenue and profit.
  • For over a decade MEMS has been searching for standards. Where are they?
  • QUALCOMM and Intel did a good job on starting sensor standardization. Now to get broad industry backing
  • Testing/ specification standards efforts gaining ground; INEMI taking up MEMS topics.
  • Too many different application areas for a broad set of standards (this is not IC!)
  • Standards? What standards? Enough said.
  • The Testing standard issued in 2013 was a major step in the right direction


MEMS standards have a long way to go before they have any significant impact on commercialization. SEMI has published 10 MEMS standards to date and IEEE has published a MEMS terminology standard in 2013 as well as a sensor/transducer interface standard P1451. With a great deal of direction and support being provided by NIST, several organizations are collaborating in the effort to support testing methods/procedures, protocols, and materials. The standard grade increased from C to C+ from 2012 to 2013, and, hopefully, this trend will continue. I would strongly encourage active participation in MEMS standards activities.

The Roadmap

Grade Analysis

2013 Grade= C+, 2012 Grade= C, Change= +1, Standard Deviation= 1.8 based on 85 inputs), Historical Standard Deviation=2.37 (based on grades from 1999 to 2013)

Report Card 2013 Roadmap


"Industry roadmaps are developed to help accelerate the commercialization process and road mapping leads to standards", said Michael Gaetan Ph.D., Project Leader of the Acoustics and Vibration Project at NIST and Chairman of the MEMS Technology Working Group. This group was formed under the auspices of iNemi and the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) organizations, which recently have individually produced MEMS roadmaps as integral chapters to their roadmaps.

Several significant roadmaps have been developed specific to the MEMS industry, most notably those developed by the MEMS and Nanotechnology Commercialization Education Foundation (MANCEF). These roadmaps had their beginnings over a decade ago and the MANCEF Roadmap has been updated periodically.

Professor Steve Walsh of the University of New Mexico, MANCEF co-founder and its first president said, "The first MANCEF Roadmap was published in 2001 and successfully continues today with periodic edition revisions. The original roadmap had 18 chapters, 450 pages, hundreds of people contributed, and we sold over 800 copies demonstrating its level of industry acceptance. SEMI, Sandia National Labs, University of New Mexico and several other organizations help fund these roadmaps to the tune of over $100k."

The major difference between these roadmaps was that the MANCEF Roadmap was a technology driven roadmap whereas the NEXUS Roadmap was application driven, making them quite complimentary. Once again, in the development of the MANCEF roadmap, it was difficult to engage users of MEMS. However, MEMS equipment, Silicon foundry, and software design and analysis organizations provided excellent content and continue to do so.

The European Platform of Smart System Integration (EPoSS) has generated roadmaps and Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs) for Smart Systems Integration. In their last edition of 2013, it has included MEMS in its technology chapter.

The most exciting news in the road mapping arena is the Trillion Sensors Roadmap effort led by MEMS industry pioneer Janusz Bryzek Ph.D. Janusz and his team of collaborators began in late 2013 to develop a roadmap that addressed the application sectors of sensors that will achieve a trillion-sensors universe. The road mapping effort works in conjunction with the many Trillion Sensor Summit conferences produced internationally. The next one is in San Diego on November 11/12, 2014. Verbatims from the report card showed a very high level of awareness existed and hope in the success of Janusz's activities to accomplish the Trillion Sensors Initiative.


  • Trillion Sensors showing promise and improving visibility.
  • Because of the fragmented markets and products in the MEMS industry, roadmaps don't seem to be adequate. There are obvious directions like in inertial, more axes, lower power, and lower cost. But outside of main established MEMS, it is very hard to set good roadmaps since many people don't seem to know which MEMS products are going to be the big successes.
  • Existing roadmaps (MANCEF, ITRS) plus developing (TSensors) are working to point the way.
  • MEMS is not an industry therefore there is no industry roadmap. Sensors and display, vision, health systems, auto, and more have clear roadmaps that help guide their future.
  • Still too fragmented to have a technology roadmap but T-Sensors and INEMI are making first credible efforts.
  • I have not seen one that I believe in.
  • This is needed and has been for a while!!
  • Difficult for MEMS as MEMS is a technology, not a product, and roadmaps generally require alignment to a specific application or market space. This is problematic for MEMS.


As one can see, the MEMS Roadmap grades are less than stellar, yet rose from C to C+ in 2013. In the early days, The European Commission NEXUS Organization and MANCEF produced complimentary roadmaps with MANCEF continuing to update and expand theirs. Recently, EPoSS (2013),iNemi (2013), and ITRS (2014) dedicated chapters of their roadmaps to address MEMS. The Trillion Sensors (TSensors) Roadmap, initiated in 2013 has gained immediate and significant attention in the industry and is in the process of ramping up.

The MEMS Industry Group is in an excellent position to accomplish the task of of staying on the road to commercialization. However, one downside is that it does not have broad representation on the user side to secure a well-represented roadmap development team: volunteers are welcome.

About the Author
Roger H. Grace is president of Roger Grace Associates (Naples, FL) which he founded in 1982 as a marketing consultancy serving the sensor, MEMS, IC and capital equipment markets. He holds the B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. (as a Raytheon Company Fellow) degrees from Northeastern University where he was awarded the Engineering Alumni of the Year Award in 2004. He was a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley College of Engineering from 1990 to 2004. He can be contacted via email at [email protected].

Related Stories

The 2013 MEMS Industry Commercialization Report Card: Barriers to the Successful Commercialization of MEMS

MEMS Commercialization Report Card Research Project, Part Two

MEMS Commercialization Report Card, Episode 3: Technology Clusters

MEMS Commercialization Report Card, Episode 4: Industry Associations


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