Dr. Ron Polcawich, program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) of DARPA will be delivering a Keynote at the MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress (MSEC 2018) which runs from 10/28/2018 to 10/30/2018 in Napa, CA.
His topic is Rapid Innovation with Production MEMS Workshop Outbrief. I recently spoke to Dr. Polcawich about his ideas on this topic and I look forward to this exciting and important keynote for the MEMS industry.
I was particularly interested in the main topic of speeding up the process and development of MEMS ICs. Dr. Polcawich told me that the process dominates this discussion. Looking at the recent trends, most of the development times fall into the three to four-year timescale. So, we need to look at changing the dynamics of this long process time, especially since MEMS processes have now matured over time. There are many MEMS devices in the commercial and Department of Defense (DoD) sector and we need to look at the present process flows and take advantage of them with innovative ideas to help reduce cycle times with Rapid Innovation through Production MEMS (RIPM).
DARPA had a workshop this past May that brought together much of the community involved to discuss their challenges, and present Dr. Polcawich’s concept ideas to see what they thought about it with possible solutions regarding how to develop a program around these ideas and concepts (They spoke to Rogue Valley Micro [See my discussion of Rogue Valley on EDN here] and some others before this workshop as well to get as much feedback as possible regarding ideas that could be implemented to achieve these kinds of goals.)
“We tried to get as much of the MEMS community as possible with large and small foundries, independent device manufacturers, device designers, transition partners, and a few academics too”, Polcawich told me.
I wondered about the high reliability that MEMS processes need and asked how reliability can be maintained while speeding up the processes. Dr. Polcawich replied that they want to take advantage of existing processes which are already developed and proven—that’s where we are starting from. Dr. Polcawich commented that “This does not mean that we are not interested in developing new processes, but primarily we want to focus upon existing processes at this time. How do we augment that capability?”
DARPA has hopes to accelerate the design cycle for MEMS development and reduce the cycle time from 1 cycle/year to 2-3 cycles/year while simultaneously gaining the reproducibility of production-proven process flows.
His Keynote will be very, very informative as well as insightful.
In the recent past, Dr. Polcawich also worked on the SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms (SHRIMP) project. This program essentially involved how disaster robots could help in times of earthquakes regarding the systemic destruction of structures and buildings. In the SHRIMP case, Micro-to-mm sized platforms were discussed and developed. See the following image.
(Image courtesy of DARPA in Reference 1)
Come join me at the MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress (MSEC 2018) and if you see me, please come up and introduce yourself---I want to hear your ideas on this and other MEMS topics.
1 Developing Microrobotics for Disaster Recovery and High-Risk Environments
2 DARPA develops disaster robots to help during national emergencies
3 US Department of Defense is hosting an Olympic Games for bug-sized robots