The pace of technological development in the area of microelectronics is constantly accelerating, which poses considerable challenges to mid-sized enterprises as drivers of innovation. Especially high-performance products that are perfectly adapted to the specific applications are becoming the standard requirements of many customers. However, such “smart” and networked systems are often required only in small volumes and require highly integrated technical solutions. Because standard semiconductors cannot be used for this, mid-sized companies will also need to have specialized technologies in their portfolios in the future. However, the development costs of such technologies are frequently too high for many companies, and the development times are too long. Advances in this area also require employees with detailed expertise in specialized fields of electronics as well as expensive design software that smaller companies often have insufficient access to.
The participating partners have established the goal of developing a technology platform by 2019 with which even smaller providers can meet the growing development and manufacturing requirements of next generation electronics. Interested mid-sized companies can also share their requirements with the research network, help shape the content of demonstrators and be the first to test them.
Against this background, the project partners are developing a new type of sensor platform that will employ a modular approach to enable automated generation of a broad range of innovative components and their integration into a complete system. The project partners are relying here on a central control and processing unit with numerous interfaces as well as a wide selection of current and future sensors and actuators. Alongside the system architecture with flexible building blocks, the platform also offers innovative solutions for hardware and IT security. Eventually, the sensor module should be available in a diverse range of design variants to cover hundreds of different use cases.
This new platform under development will be based on the 22FDX technology (Fully Depleted SOI) of Globalfoundries, which was developed in Dresden and enables highly integrated chips with especially low-power and inexpensive properties. The Fraunhofer institutes are contributing in particular their competence in innovative packaging and their know-how in the development of system concepts, system design, sensor systems and data transmission as well as in simulation and testing. In order that companies can make use of the new platform for as long as possible, USeP is ensuring that the results will also be transferable to the next generation of technology.