Electronics and Microsystems

Areas of application

Im Nutzen gefertigtes MEMS-Package.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
MEMS package manufactured in multiple panels.

Electronic devices and components


As end users‘ demands continue to grow, so too does the need for components that guarantee the utmost reliability and most durable lifespan, as integration density and miniaturiza­tion continue to increase – even under the most adverse oper­ating conditions. Their specific physical properties give ceramic devices tremendous advantages for high-frequency and high-temperature applications. Fraunhofer IKTS develops cus­tomer-specific solutions for solid and flexible substrates, pas­sive components and integrated circuits. A particular specialty at IKTS is embodied by polymer ceramic composites that link the process capabilities found in plastics with properties that are typical of ceramics, such as durability and temperature re­sistance. These composites are especially well-suited for use in highly durable components and system encapsulations.

Sensorknoten als MEMS integriert in CFK-Struktur.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Sensor nodes integrated as MEMS into the CFRP structure.

Sensors and sensor systems


Fraunhofer IKTS offers single-source, complete sensor solu­tions for use in chemical, electrochemical, electrical, thermal, acoustic, electromagnetic, mechanical, and optical sensor technologies. Building on the synthesis of functional ceramic materials and the processing of commercial materials, Fraun­hofer IKTS develops sensor components for applications in chemical, process, environmental, energy, and test engineer­ing. Depending on the requirements, these sensor compo­nents can be furnished with calibrated evaluation electronics for one or multiple parameters and are integrated into the sys­tem environment. Fraunhofer IKTS assists customers and proj­ect partners along the entire process chain: from materials synthesis and adaptation to the integration of the entire sys­tem into existing process and systems structures.

Industrial and automotive sensor systems represent one focus in this regard; so too is the non-destructive testing of metals, ceramics, and composites as well as carbon fiber-reinforced composites. The institute has honed its existing expertise in the configuration of high-temperature resistant sensor solu­tions based on ceramic substrates.

Größenvergleich eines LTCC-MEMS-Packages.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Size comparison of an LTCC-MEMS package.

Electronic microsystems


Due to their high temperature resistance, mechanical strength and the possibility to produce them in multiple panels, ceramic packaging solutions offer the benefit of being an ideal integra­tion platform for microoptical, microelectromechanical (MEMs) and sensory systems. By enhancing them with actuators, heat­ing and cooling elements, fluid elements and other functional­ities, scientists can tap into entirely new areas of application for highly integrated products. These can be integrated on a three-dimensional basis by using the latest thick-film, multi­layer (HTCC, LTCC) and thin-film technologies, and they can be miniaturized all the way down to the wafer level. These sensors can also be fully embedded into structural compo­nents.

Piezokeramische Aktorplattform für ebenen Hub.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Piezoceramic actuator platform for a level hub.

Intelligent materials and systems


Functionality does not necessarily mean complexity. Fraun­hofer IKTS works with smart systems in which different com­ponents are integrated into a total system. However, the material itself can also execute controllable functions directly. To do so, staff at Fraunhofer IKTS researches and studies the extraordinary physical properties of materials. Known as “smart materials”, they can respond to physical parameters autonomously, combining electrical and mechanical function­ality, e.g. to execute mechanical movements within the most confined spaces. These properties lend themselves superbly for use in microfluid technology, optics and laser engineering, as well as micromechanical systems. IKTS researchers engineer such materials, characterize their properties in meticulous detail, test them, and integrate them into components and systems.

Röntgentomographie von 3D-gestapelten Bauelementen (Through-Silicon-Vias).
© Fraunhofer IKTS
X-ray tomography of 3D stacked devices (through-silicon vias).

Material parameters and reliability


Shortened development cycles and increasing complexity at the component and systems levels make the reliability of na­noelectronic and microelectronic systems a central challenge. The scientists at Fraunhofer IKTS study and evaluate function­al and heterogeneously integrated systems in nanoelectronics and microelectronics, as well as microsystems technology. At the heart of these endeavors is the effort to identify and mea­sure key material parameters on a variety of scales, using me­chanical and thermal test procedures as well as high-resolu­tion microscopy. These determinations are used to subsequently derive design rules for robust components. Drawing on a broad spectrum of in situ measurement proce­dures, specific material and joining requirements can be eval­uated and optimized in real time in order to provide the appropriate parameters for the simulation. The knowledge acquired in this manner about materials and joining technolo­gies, as well as the mechanisms of degradation and failure, form the basis for an improved level of reliability.

Printing inks and flexible electronics


Flexible substrates made of polymers represent an increasingly significant platform for the architecture of electronic circuits and the integration of microsystems. The temperature resis­tance, which is limited to a maximum of 200 ºC, necessitates the application of the low-sintered inks for metallization and functional coatings. In the process, the scientists apply tech­niques, such as screen, inkjet, and aerosol printing. Fraun­hofer IKTS offers nanosuspensions for this made from a vari­ety of materials, such as Ag, Au, Pt, Cu, ITO, CNT or graphene. These layers are then tested for their adhesion, conductivity, and bondability using viable serial production and existing full-scale production methods.