Microfabrica (previously MEMGen) is a MEMS start up that secured $15 million in venture financing last year. We recently spoke with Adam Cohen, the EVP of Technology and CTO of the company.
MEMS Investor Journal: Microfabrica has positioned its EFAB process as its unique capability. How does the EFAB process work and what are its unique advantages and benefits over other MEMS technologies?
Adam Cohen: EFAB technology is a microfabrication process based on multi-layer electroplating and planarization of metals. The process is designed to efficiently stack dozens of independently patterned metal layers on top of one another, allowing designers to create intricate 3-D complex geometries with micron-level precision.
EFAB technology is a flexible and versatile process that has the ability for creating complex 3-D microdevices composed of dozens (so far up to 50) layers (by comparison, the state-of-the-art for conventional MEMS processes is 5) that are otherwise impossible or impractical to make. This opens the door to enhancing performance and new functionality.
MIJ: What are the limitations of the EFAB process?
AC: There are three potential limitations of the EFAB process:
1) materials – most electroplated metals and alloys attach to insulate, however a sister process is under development to provide both an insulator and a metal for those few applications that need a structural insulator,
2) feature size - currently limited to 10-20 µm in the plane of the layers, and 2 µm perpendicular to this plane (but have not found a reason to go smaller than that)
and 3) sidewall quality - compared with LIGA it is not as good since its multiple layers vs. one.
MIJ: What kinds of applications are most optimally fabricated with the EFAB process?
AC: RF components/systems (especially microwave/mm-wave devices at GHz frequencies), safing/arming and fuzing devices for weaponry, multi-axis inertial sensors, surgical instruments and medical implants, high-force & long-stroke actuators, printheads and fluid ejectors.