MEMS and Sensors

MEMS and Sensors for Automotive Electronics Research Vision and Strategy

An important trend in automotive sensors is the integration of the sensor and signal processing directly at the measuring point, embracing complex circuits for signal conditioning (SC), analog/digital converters (A/D), microcontroller (MC) and interfaces to Electronic Control Units (ECU), which can be electrical, optical or wireless. Consequently the challenges are miniaturization and higher ambient temperatures.

Optoelectronic sensors, e.g. CMOS or CCD cameras, are being developed for ADAS development. These sensors are needed for autonomous driving in parking areas and for collision avoidance. Major technological advancements in image sensors, like high-dynamic range through backside illumination techniques, are forcing driver assistance in safety-related imaging applications. Stereo cameras provide the advantages of complete imaging of the scene providing three-dimensional (3D) data, compared to radar data, which only contains two coordinates for each point. This additional data obtained can be used to recognize and classify the objects. A shorter reaction time and further miniaturization, wireless communication and cost reduction are the main challenges.

The biggest challenges are in developing a wide variety of sensors and sensor array packaging that is miniaturized, highly functional and low cost. The proposed Glass packaging platform addresses the needs in gas sensor arrays to meet the demands on sensitivity, selectivity, stability, miniaturization and high performance for signal processing and calibration. One of the challenges in gas sensing is the need for calibration, and the storage of calibration data for operation under various conditions of humidity, temperature and pressure. 

As the complexity of electronic modules used in the automotive industry increases, there is a need for self-monitoring of these components, especially in harsh environmental conditions. Adding such sensing capabilities often means additional cost. A direct integration of sensors into the package with other functions might reduce the cost (and form factor) and may provide data that is more meaningful for evaluating system condition. As an example, data coming from a stress sensor integrated directly into the substrate of a power electronics module might be a better indicator of the remaining module lifetime than data coming from a sensor soldered onto the substrate.

Glass packaging platform in 2D, 2.5D and 3D architectures is proposed to address each of the individual challenges as well heterogeneous integration of some or all the sensors for performance, cost, miniaturization and reliability. 

For more information about the MEMS and Sensors Research at GT PRC, please contact Prof. Klaus Wolter, Program Manager at klaus.wolter@prc.gatech.edu.