MEMS Actuators? Sounds Fantastic!


How many MEMS have you used today? Have you used a Smartphone? GPS? Activity tracker? Gaming system? Car?  Printer? Then the chances are that you have used many of them in the form of motion sensors, pressure sensors, microphones, inkjet printhead or other.

Since appearing in gaming systems about 10 years ago, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems — MEMS — have spread into a wide range of applications because of their enormous benefits. Device makers and consumers love that MEMS are manufactured using highly precise and reproducible semiconductor manufacturing that keeps costs and part-to-part variability down–even if many consumers don’t even know it. And because consumers are using MEMS in more and more applications, as the leading manufacturer of MEMS for consumer and mobile applications, we at ST are finding ways to make them better and better. We’re also finding ways to put them in new applications requiring sensors or actuators to make those applications even more appealing. In fact, with a collaboration just announced between ST and USound, MEMS can literally sing!

To be fair, MEMS can’t sing on their own. But with USound, we’re making the world’s first miniature piezoelectric MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) actuators for smart audio systems in portable devices. In contrast to MEMS devices that SENSE (motion/inertia, pressure, temperature, etc.), this effort will produce MEMS devices that ACTUATE, vibrating at frequencies in the audible range like the diaphragm on a traditional loudspeaker. This team effort uses ST’s industry-leading thin-film piezo-electric (TFP) technology to improve scalability and cost while lowering power consumption and heat dissipation in hearables and smartphones devices. And with USound’s unique technology, we do this with uncompromised audio quality.

In fact, USound’s piezo-MEMS devices offer unprecedented mechanical precision that improves audio reproduction fidelity and device reliability. The first-of-its-kind device, USound’s MEMS “Moon” speaker targets earphone applications, bringing superior performance to the audio world at a competitive price.

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