Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems

Duisburg, Germany

Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems

Duisburg, Germany
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News Article | May 2, 2017

Capacitor withstands temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius. Credit: Fraunhofer IMS Heat, dust and moisture damage electronic components. Protecting against dust and moisture is fairly straightforward, but heat remains a problem because it is created within the component itself. Anywhere electricity flows, heat is generated as well. There is not always enough space in the electronic component to draw away the waste heat with cooling fins or ventilators. Devices that operate in a hot environment pose an even bigger problem. For example, a drill bit in the oil industry rotates at high speeds thousands of meters below the surface, generating temperatures of up to 250 degrees – not to mention the enormous mechanical load on the electronic components. Fortunately, the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS has a solution to this problem: a capacitor that can withstand temperatures of up to 300 degrees. By comparison, conventional electronics can cope with temperatures only up to 125 degrees. Capacitors store charge carriers and are among the most frequently used passive structural elements in electronics. The design of a capacitor is simple: it has two conducting plates, which function as the plus and minus electrodes, separated by an insulating layer called the dielectric. Dorothee Dietz, a scientist at Fraunhofer IMS, and her team were able to improve the capacitor's heat resistance by using an innovative mix of materials and several design tricks. When manufacturing the conducting metal layers, the team etched tiny holes in the surface to increase its area. This 3-D trick increases its capacity and simultaneously makes it possible to use a thicker dielectric. A thicker layer withstands higher temperatures better and can decrease uncontrolled leakage current in the capacitor. The experts are striking new paths in the production of the insulating dielectric, too, by using tantalum pentoxide, a compound of tantalum (a metal) and oxygen and aluminum oxide. This mix of materials is better at storing charge carriers than the silicon oxide usually used, so it increases the capacitor's capacitance. For this reason, these particularly high-performing materials are also sometimes called high-k dielectrics in electric engineering. In addition, the Fraunhofer researchers use a highly electrically conductive silicon as well as ruthenium, which is especially robust and heat-resistant. "With our material mix and design tricks, we can manufacture a capacitor that is incredibly tough and heat-tolerant without compromising performance," explains Dietz. Yet the resistance to high temperatures is not the only advantage that the semiconductor from the Fraunhofer lab offers. The capacitors are also manufactured using the metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) process, which works with layers that are just one atomic layer thick (atomic layer deposition). This makes it possible to precisely determine the overall thickness of the layers, "which makes production very flexible," says Dietz. "The manufacturer can produce components exactly according to the customer's specifications without having to change the flow of the process." This expertise in high-temperature electronics can be applied to many other passive or active structural elements, such as resistors, diodes and transistors. Besides that, the technology established at Fraunhofer IMS is also suited for completely integrated circuits. Consequently, the capacitor can be incorporated not only into drill bits but also into engine injection systems or aircraft turbines – in other words, anywhere that requires extremely heat-resistant and robust components. Explore further: Photodielectric discovery brings new optical control to electronics

News Article | March 23, 2016

« Toyota doubles the electric range in the new version of Prius PHEV with 8.8 kWh pack | Main | Primus Green Energy methanol plant project slated for 2017 in the Marcellus Region » Engineers from Saarland University are developing intelligent motor systems that function without the need for additional sensors. By essentially transforming the motor itself into a sensor, the team led by Professor Matthias Nienhaus is creating smart motors that can tell whether they are still running smoothly, can communicate and interact with other motors and can be efficiently controlled. By using data collected from the motor while it is operating, the researchers are able to calculate quantities that in other systems would need to be measured by additional sensors. Further, they are teaching the drive how to make use of this knowledge. Gathering data from the motor while it is operating normally is particularly valuable for the research team; the more motor data they have, the more efficiently they can control the motor. The engineers analyze the motor data to identify those signal patterns that can be used to infer something about the current status of the motor or to flag up changes arising from a malfunction or from wear. The team is developing mathematical models that simulate the various motor states, fault levels and degrees of wear. The results are fed into a microcontroller. If a certain signal changes, the controller can identify the underlying fault or error and respond accordingly. These sentient motors can be linked together via a network operating system to form an integrated complex that open up numerous opportunities in the fields of maintenance, quality assurance and production. It is also conceivable that a system could be designed in which one motor automatically takes over if one of the other motors fails. In order to gather data from the motor, Nienhaus and his team carefully monitor the precise distribution of the magnetic field strength in the motor. An electromagnetic field is generated when electric current flows through the coils located within the outer ring of rotating permanent magnets. The researchers record how this magnetic field changes when the motor rotates. This data can then be used to compute the position of the rotor and to draw other inferences about the status of the motor, which allows the motor to be controlled efficiently and error states to be detected reliably. Nienhaus is currently testing a number of different methodologies to determine those best suited to acquiring data from the motor. This work is being carried out as part of the project “Modular sensor systems for real-time process control and smart state monitoring” (MoSeS-Pro). The research team is looking to identify which motor speed range generates the best data and which type of motor is best suited for this type of application. The MoSeS-Pro project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The goal of the MoSeS-Pro project is to develop a suite of hardware and software modules with which it will be easier to develop sensor systems for monitoring and controlling drives and positioning systems, paving the way for fast and precise manufacturing processes that can be monitored and adjusted in real time. The project is being carried with the support of the associated partners Festo AG (Rohrbach plant) and Bosch Rexroth AG (Homburg plant) and the direct project partners Sensitec GmbH, Lenord, Bauer & Co. GmbH, ESR Dipl.-Ing. Pollmeier GmbH and CANWAY Technology GmbH. In addition to ZeMA, research partners in the MoSeS-Pro project are the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMS) and the Department of Integrated Sensor Systems at Kaiserslautern University of Technology. The research work has received financial support totalling €3.1 million (US$3.5 million) as part of the BMBF funding programme “Sensor-based electronic systems for Industry 4.0 applications (SElekt I4.0)”, which is being managed by the project management agency VDI/VDE-IT. Around €540,000 (US$603,000) in funding has been allocated to Saarland University. The researchers are currently working with project partners to study and test a number of different procedural methods. The ultimate goal is to make manufacturing processes more cost-effective and flexible and to enable machinery and equipment to be continuously monitored for faults or signs of wear. The project will be on show at Hannover Messe from 25-29 April, where the team will be exhibiting at the Saarland Research and Innovation Stand in Hall 2, Stand B46.

News Article | December 1, 2016

The cost of electricity is rising. Saving energy ceased to be a fad long ago, and is now a sheer necessity. Yet up until now, consumers could do little more than switch appliances off or leave them on standby. But thanks to NILM (non-intrusive load monitoring) technology, which was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg, things might change radically very soon. The NILM project involves IMS as the lead organization and other partners from industry, and received the go-ahead in October 2015. It is projected to last two years. "Fingerprints" all over the power grid The technology is based on a simple principle: each device has a pattern of energy consumption that gives rise to a type of signature or "fingerprint" within the power grid. Using algorithms, it is possible to identify this signature within total energy consumption, and so determine energy consumption rates for individual appliances. Only one meter capable of taking three-phase current and voltage measurements is needed to do so. This eliminates the laborious installation and maintenance of multiple meters – also known as sub-metering. A software program visualizes the power consumption of each device in real time. Users can determine when the coffee maker switches itself on, the washing machine is spinning, or a light has been switched off. Users can also identify when an appliance is faulty because faults also give rise to altered consumption signatures. If a refrigerator develops a faulty seal, for instance, increased energy use will draw attention to it. In industry, trade and commerce and the service sector, NILM technology could result in energy savings of more than 12 percent. Companies can analyze their power consumption during production and determine what components in a product use high levels of energy during manufacture. Peak load times in the power grid can also be recorded and therefore avoided. NILM represents an ideal complement to industry 4.0. By measuring the power consumption of specific devices, a company can optimize its energy management. Dr. Gerd vom Bögel, head of the business unit at IMS, and his team are developing and optimizing the required algorithms to make this vision a reality. "A single electric meter can monitor over twenty devices. Conventional meters, in contrast, only show total energy consumption by all connected devices, for instance that a light, fridge, and toaster combined have used a total of 500 watts," explains vom Bögel. To supply the algorithms with sufficient data, the high-tech SmartMeter measures energy intake at a scanning frequency of up to 1 megasample-per-second. Among other things, the meter records interference voltage, that is, the noise produced by devices in the power grid. Which devices are in use can be determined based on the various frequencies of the interference voltage. EasyMeter GmbH is the partner responsible for developing NILM meter hardware while Discovergy GmbH is developing the necessary gateway and processing server. Still another project partner, GreenPocket GmbH, is responsible for the user interface, and evaluates and visualizes data. Finally, RWE GBS GmbH secures suitable test clients from the commercial and industrial sectors, and analyzes data with a view to developing measures to ensure more efficient energy use. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is providing the funding for this joint project. Fraunhofer researchers continue to work on the system's recognition accuracy and the ideal combination of measured parameters and algorithms. The technology is expected to be ready for the market in summer 2017. "While industrial and commercial applications are our focus, home users are another suitable group," says vom Bögel. A NILM prototype will be on display in at BAU 2017 from 16-21 January (Hall C2, Booth 538). At the trade fair, IMS will demonstrate how the energy intake of appliances such as refrigerators, coffee machines, lights, or TVs can be measured by SmartMeter and visualized on screen. Explore further: New system for monitoring electricity use heralds greener homes and cheaper bills

Klauke S.,University of Marburg | Goertz M.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems | Rein S.,Thomas Recording GmbH | Hoehl D.,Thomas Recording GmbH | And 5 more authors.
Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science | Year: 2011

PURPOSE. Electrical stimulation of retinal neurons has been shown to be a feasible way to elicit visual percepts in patients blind from retinal degenerations. The EPIRET3 retinal implant is the first completely wireless intraocular implant for epiretinal stimulation. Stimulation tests have been performed during a clinical trial that was carried out at the eye clinics of Aachen and Essen to evaluate the safety and the efficacy of the implant. METHODS. Six legally blind retinitis pigmentosa patients were included in the study. In accordance with the regulations laid down in the study protocol, three 1-hour perceptual tests for each subject were performed within 4 weeks of surgery. Stimuli were charge-balanced square current pulses of various durations and current amplitudes. RESULTS. All subjects reported visual percepts as a result of electrical stimulation by the implant. Thresholds for eliciting visual percepts varied between them but were below the safety limits of electrical stimulation. Stimulation success depended stronger on pulse duration than on current amplitude or total charge delivered. Subjects were able to discriminate between stimulation patterns of different orientations or at different locations of the electrode array. CONCLUSIONS. The EPIRET3 system is suitable to elicit visual percepts in blind retinitis pigmentosa patients. © 2011 The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Inc.

Rosman C.,University of Mainz | Pierrat S.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems | Henkel A.,University of Mainz | Tarantola M.,Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization | And 4 more authors.
Small | Year: 2012

Toxicological effects of nanoparticles are associated with their internalization into cells. Hence, there is a strong need for techniques revealing the interaction between particles and cells as well as quantifying the uptake at the same time. For that reason, herein optical dark-field microscopy is used in conjunction with transmission electron microscopy to investigate the uptake of gold nanoparticles into epithelial cells with respect to shape, stabilizing agent, and surface charge. The number of internalized particles is strongly dependent on the stabilizing agent, but not on the particle shape. A test of metabolic activity shows no direct correlation with the number of internalized particles. Therefore, particle properties besides coating and shape are suspected to contribute to the observed toxicity. © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Schmadecke I.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems | Blume H.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems
Studies in Classification, Data Analysis, and Knowledge Organization | Year: 2013

Today, stationary systems like personal computers and even portable music playback devices provide storage capacities for huge music collections of several thousand files. Therefore, the automated music classification is a very attractive feature for managing such multimedia databases. This type of application enhances the user comfort by classifying songs into predefined categories like music genres or user-defined categories. However, the automated music classification, based on audio feature extraction, is, firstly, extremely computation intensive, and secondly, has to be applied to enormous amounts of data. This is the reason why energy-efficient high-performance implementations for feature extraction are required. This contribution presents a dedicated hardware architecture for music classification applying typical audio features for discrimination (e.g., spectral centroid, zero crossing rate). For evaluation purposes, the architecture is mapped on an Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). In addition, the same application is also implemented on a commercial Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Both implementations are evaluated in terms of processing time and energy efficiency. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013.

Grella K.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems | Vogt H.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems | Paschen U.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems
Proceedings - 2011 IMAPS International Conference on High Temperature Electronics Network, HiTEN 2011 | Year: 2011

Microelectronic manufacturing progresses not only towards further miniaturisation, but also application fields tend to become more and more diverse. Recently there has been an increasing demand for electronic devices and circuits that function in harsh environments such as high temperatures. Under these conditions, reliability aspects are highly critical and testing remains a great challenge. A versatile CMOS process based on 200 mm thin film Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) wafers is in production at Fraunhofer IMS. It features three layers of tungsten metallisation for optimum electromigration reliability, voltage independent capacitors, high resistance resistors and single-poly-EEPROM cells. Non-volatile memories such as EEPROMs are a key technology that enables flexible data storage, for example of calibration and measurement information. The reliability of these devices is especially crucial in high temperature applications since charge loss is drastically increased in this case. The behaviour of single-poly-EEPROM cells, produced in the process described before, was evaluated up to 450 °C. Data retention tests at temperatures ranging from 160 °C to 450 °C and write/erase cycling tests up to 400 °C were performed. The dependence of write/erase cycling on both temperature and tunnel oxide thickness was studied. These data provide an important foundation to extend the application of high temperature electronics to its maximum limits. The results show that EEPROM cells can be used for special applications even at temperatures higher than 250 °C.

Hennig A.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems | Vom Bogel G.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems
RFID 2010: International IEEE Conference on RFID | Year: 2010

The use of sensor-transponder technologies particularly in medical applications opens valuable possibilities in therapy of human cardiovascular system diseases, e.g. cardiac insufficiency. The application presented here is representative for future applications, where the use of miniaturized passively-powered sensor-transponder systems with high read range is relevant. In the past, load-modulation was developed as a simple technique to transmit data from low-cost ID-transponders to a reader. This technique can be considered as suboptimal for the given challenges in the presented medical and other possible high-demanding applications. Higher read ranges and small antenna dimensions are necessary. In consequence new techniques, especially for data transmission, have to be developed. First of all, the limitations of the load-modulation technique are analyzed. Conventional solutions are then discussed. It is shown that existing solutions could not be used for this specific and future applications. A new data transmission technique called "frequency conversion" is presented. This technique allows data transmission over a greater distance. Measurements in a practical implementation verifiy the performance of this technique. ©2010 IEEE.

Elssner M.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems
Microelectronics Reliability | Year: 2014

This paper presents an innovative and effective method of measuring the internal vacuum quality of un-cooled micro bolometer thermal imager sensors where the bolometer sensor elements themselves are used for vacuum measurement. A feasible thermal calculation model using an extended Fourier's Law is presented which is integrated in thermal FEM simulations. Experimental results correlating with FEM simulations prove the feasibility of this method. A measuring range to pressures as low as 5 × 10-3 mbar was achieved that fully covers the needed range where the internal package pressure is leading to performance losses of the IRFPA. The vacuum quality evaluation method supported by a developed temperature compensation method is showing a high repetitive accuracy with a remaining mean failure of 0.2%. Without the need to integrate additional pressure sensors this method reduces costs and chip area and it is fast and highly accurate. Therefore, it can be used for stationary test systems as well as in mobile infrared camera systems. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Hess J.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems | Vogt H.,Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems
IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering | Year: 2012

Copper pillar bumps show a wide-ranging application for assembly and packaging according to the «More than Moore» roadmap. For the demand of higher input/output (I/O) densities and consequently smaller bump pitches the requirements on each process step in producing 6 μm pitch Cu-Sn bumps increase. In this case the removal of seed layer with wet etchants is no longer practicable due to high undercut. A sacrifical Ion Beam Etching (IBE) process was developed for removing the TiW/Cu seed layer without any undercut. Due to the high etching rate of the rough Sn surface a sacrificial layer of Ni was used to protect the solder layer. To optimize the layer thicknesses etch rates were characterized. Special attention was directed to the etched material which covered the bumps on the sidewalls after the etching process step. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) measurements and reflow processes revealed the influence of the redepositioned material on the melting behavior and hence on the following bonding process. © Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd.

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