AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – The Finnish MEMS-making subsidiary of Murata is looking at how it could add RF technologies to its MEMS to pursue markets for wireless sensor networks.
Passives to power supplies vendor Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Kyoto, Japan) took over MEMS maker VTI Technologies Oy (Vantaa, Finland) in 2012, culminating in a name change to Murata Electronics Oy. The takeover is part of a long-term strategic move by Murata towards greater complexity and greater added value in its products.
However, the company has dropped plans to make MEMS for consumer applications at Vantaa.
"We make automotive, industrial, medical sensors and we are Murata's center of excellence for MEMS," said Hannu Laatikainen, executive vice president of automotive business at Murata Electronics, speaking on the sidelines of the MEMS Executive Congress here. "We also do R&D for consumer MEMS but the business responsibility is in Japan and manufacturing will be outsourced to foundries," he added.
The decision is partly driven by the strong growth experienced by Vantaa with its present portfolio. The company manufactured MEMS worth 100 million euros (about $130 million) in 2012, a 14 percent increase on 2011.
Shinji Ushiro, president and CEO of Murata Electronics Oy, said that the automotive, industrial and medical markets also provide an opportunity to pursue wireless sensor networks by adding communications technology to MEMS. "We have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee technologies and 65 percent of smartphones have some sort of front-end RF solution from Murata," he said.
Along with its acquisition of VTI Technologies Oy Murata has made a series of acquisitions of RF companies. In 2012 it acquired RF Monolithics Inc. (Dallas, Texas) for about $22 million in cash. The company manufactures short-range radio components, RF modules and boxed radios for a range of industrial, commercial and consumer applications including machine-to-machine communications.
At present Murata Electronics subcontracts the production of signal conditioning ASICs for use alongside its MEMS die to Texas Instruments and then these two-die solutions are packaged as a MEMS component at Murata Electronics in Finland.
Laatikainen said that although most of Murata's MEMS are based on inertial sensing principles it is developing an optically-based fuel sensor in cooperation with the local VTT Research Institute for the automotive sector. "That might also be interesting in the medical sector," Laatikainen said