LONDON A three year 6.5million programme funded by the European Commission is aimed at reducing the costs and risks associated with designing, prototyping and manufacturing integrated microsystems.
The INTEGRAMplus project will be co-ordinated by the U.K.'s QinetiQ and draw on the expertise and facilities of ten partners from seven different European countries.
Microsystems, or devices with very small components, is growing in a number of emerging markets, such as communications, biomedical, healthcare, and environmental and security monitoring. These systems often require high levels of complexity, performing a combination of mechanical, electrical, optical, biological and fluidic functions.
It is felt that this complexity cannot be provided in a cost-effective way by current single material technologies (i.e. by systems using solely silicon, polymer or glass). INTEGRAMplus will therefore adopt a multi-technology approach, combining silicon with one or more other materials, to provide the required integrated functions.
INTEGRAMplus will initially focus on integrating silicon-based MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) components with polymer backplanes and platforms. Three proof-of-concept demonstrator components will be developed and will include a bio-diagnostics sensor based on customer requirements. These requirements will be determined through an extensive survey of end-users in the healthcare market.
INTEGRAMplus is a follow up to the INTEGRAM European project, also led by QinetiQ, which focused on silicon sensors and electronics. The ultimate goal of INTEGRAMplus is to stimulate take up of micro- and nanotechnologies (MNTs) by end users by providing flexible design and prototyping services with a route to manufacture.
Marcel Hugen, project officer for the European Commission, said,” Micro- and nanotechnologies are increasingly being exploited across a wide range of markets with many European companies and institutions demonstrating world-class capabilities. INTEGRAMplus will be a flagship EC project, combining the expertise of its partners for the benefit of European industry, from design and proof of concept, to manufacturing and system integration.”
In addition to QinetiQ, the INTEGRAMplus consortium comprises: Coventor (France), CSEM (Switzerland); Epigem (UK); IMM (Germany); IMT (Romania); ITE (Poland); Silex Microsystems (Sweden); University of Lancaster (UK); and Yole Développement (France).