Create a new company to create things MEMS electrostatic switch


Menlo Microsystems announces that its MEMS switches have made progress on a wide range of IoT applications. In addition to GE's medical systems, future-proof power switches and relays will be used in a variety of industrial IoT and mobile systems for radio frequency (RF) RF) switch.

 Startup Menlo Microsystems announced that its MEMS switches have made progress on a wide range of Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Menlo is a spin-off from General Electric Corp. (GE) whose MEMS switch chips are already used in GE Healthcare systems and future power actuators and relays for a variety of Industrial IoT applications as well as mobile systems RF switch.


 As early as 2014, Menlo released the electrostatic switch, which uses a new metal alloy to sputter on a glass substrate to form a contact beam and contact the gate under current to form a complete contact. This electrostatic MEMS switch significantly reduces power consumption compared to solid state switches and products developed for many vertical markets using a unique proprietary process.


Menlo MEMS switches are formed by sputtering a metal alloy onto a glass substrate to form a contact beam and contact the gate with current to form a contact that significantly reduces power consumption
The MEMS switch has the advantages of low power consumption, allowing it to respond to high current switching tasks. In addition, it does not heat like a conventional power switch or relay, eliminating the need for large, expensive heat sinks.
Currently, the switch is manufactured at GE's small research facility. Menlo is expected to be mass-produced by mid-2018 at a commercial MEMS fab in Silex Microsystems, Sweden.
Russ Garcia, chief executive of Menlo, said: "Our biggest challenge at the moment is to implement and validate the technology in commercial fabs."
The biggest opportunity for this component is to replace the electromagnetic, electromechanical and solid-state components used in the current variety of relays and power switches. Menlo predicts that in the coming months various reference designs incorporating MEMS switch chips will be available for industrial automation, robots and home and building automation.
Garcia said one of the biggest problems with IoT devices such as the Nest Wisdom thermostat is how to turn on or turn off power systems such as HVAC effectively, which is where the Menlo switch comes in. Works without electricity. He said: "Our MEMS switches achieve orders of magnitude higher efficiency in terms of size and power consumption of power switches."

 
 Menlo announced that its switch size and power consumption and other performance significantly surpasses the existing switches and relays (Source: Menlo Micro)
The design originates from GE's 12 years of research in MEMS switching. "They found that the reliability issue for MEMS lies in the material, and thus developed a unique alloy of MEMS switches for contact beams and contacts, as well as a novel glass substrate that reliably handles multi-billion-kW power switches. "
GE's medical unit will be the first to use the chip to replace its current array of PIM diodes for use in MRI systems. The company expects the MEMS switch to save up to $ 10,000 per set of MRI systems. Garcia said: "At present, they need to configure a PhD machine for each person with five PhD's manpower to adjust, and with Menlo MEMS switch, they can be automated programming of these systems."
Although GE pioneered the introduction of the chip into its MRI system, Menlo has also been discussing future applications of the chip with other MRI manufacturers. He emphasized, "GE hopes the business can help create Menlo as a new strategic component supplier."
Menlo also optimistic about the chip in the RF switch application prospects. The chip is currently designed for military radios and offers up to 10 times more power output at 10 times lower power consumption and is expected to ship this fall.
In addition, the startup hopes to license the technology to manufacturers of RF switches for smartphones such as Peregrine, Qorvo and Skyworks. In response to this licensing, Garcia explains, "I do not want to be a 15-cent low-cost switch, and we've also got NRE fees for the first-phase licensing assessments from multiple vendors."
Menlo raised $ 22.5 million a year ago from investors such as Corning, GE Ventures and Microsemi in the hope of monetizing multiple market opportunities by mid-2019. Garcia stressed that "my goal is not to raise capital again, because our profits are very high, especially after the new plant is put into operation, the prices of these switches will have an average selling price (ASP) of $ 20-100."
Compile: Susan Hong

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