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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited
Special issue – packaging technology for sensors and MEMS
The recently held IMAPS – Europe Cracow 2002 Symposium attracted 170 delegates from all around the world to this most beautiful Polish city. The symposium was an entertaining event with much of interest on offer in both the exhibition and the excellent conference papers. In addition, the symposium had a splendid location, particularly emphasized by the conference dinner, which was held in Cracow's oldest restaurant, situated in the atmospheric old town square. It was also particularly interesting to note a significant number of papers at the symposium reporting the use of microelectronics packaging technologies for the fabrication of sensors and MEMS, some of which are presented here in this current edition of Microelectronics International, which has this topic as its special theme.
This seemingly still rapidly growing area was also highlighted in IMAPS president, Dr Chuck Bauer's opening paper entitled ''Future device packaging directions'' in which he drew attention to several applications of packaging with sensors and MEMS. One interesting 'data bite' presented by Chuck was that whilst packaging typically accounted for between 8 and 24 per cent of the cost of electronic systems, for MEMS this figure frequently approaches 75 to 80 per cent. Given such a high percentage share of the market it is no wonder that this emerging sector holds such appeal for the electronics packaging fraternity! There is still quite some way to go for this market sector to reach maturity however the highest selling MEMS product worldwide is still currently the inkjet nozzle.
The questions following the opening session of the symposium also threw up another interesting point. One questioner addressed the future of the packaging industry and queried whether there was much of a future given the trend towards complete systems on chip. Chuck Bauer responded by saying that the types of things that could currently be achieved on chip were so wide ranging that no one fabrication technique could be employed to carry it all out simultaneously and hence there was still a need for packaging to bring it all together. It could perhaps be argued that this will always be the case. As fast as functionality is integrated on chip, researchers will equally rapidly find new things to do with new fabrication techniques to perpetrate this situation. Onwards and upwards!