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Electronics Production | February 03, 2011

X-FAB and MFI join on MEMS foundry offerings

X-FAB Silicon Foundries acquired a 25.5% shareholding of MEMS Foundry Itzehoe GmbH (MFI), subject to antitrust approval, with the option to become the majority shareholder at a later date.
The cooperation opens up new business opportunities for both companies and complements their existing technical capabilities and manufacturing capacities. X-FAB, the foundry for More-Than-Moore technologies, broadens and expands its MEMS foundry service through the proven technical capabilities of MFI, and also accelerates its rapid expansion in high-volume MEMS manufacturing. MFI, a contract manufacturer for MEMS and spin-off from Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT), gains access to X-FAB’s advanced analog and mixed-signal silicon foundry and MEMS device manufacturing services.

“We see a huge business potential in this cooperation,” said Hans-Jürgen Straub, CEO of X-FAB. “With such excellent partners as the MFI and Fraunhofer, we form a powerful force offering a unique set of MEMS technologies. With strong demand and our combined resources, we aim to increase our annual MEMS revenue to more than $50 million in the next five years.”

In addition to the recently announced expansion of X-FAB’s 8-inch MEMS Center, the agreement extends X-FAB’s MEMS capabilities across a wide range of 8-inch MEMS technologies for MEMS development and manufacturing that complement X-FAB’s foundry services. In 2010, the company accrued more than 12 million USD of MEMS revenue, and has manufactured approximately 1 billion MEMS devices to date.

MFI, established in 2009, is active within Fraunhofer’s wafer fabrication facility in Itzehoe. It has a wealth of experience in process industrialization for MEMS products and offers key manufacturing technologies on 8-inch wafers for micro-machined devices including inertial sensors, micro-mirrors and RF MEMS, wafer-level packaging techniques for wafer-to-wafer and chip-to-wafer bonding and a variety of TSV (Through Silicon Via) technologies.

“With this joint cooperation we will close the gap between microelectronics and pure MEMS foundry services and establish an outstanding technology bundle,“ said Dr. Peter Merz, CEO of MFI.

MFI works closely with Fraunhofer ISIT, a center of excellence for MEMS research and development, and has a successful track record of converting the results of research projects between Fraunhofer ISIT and industrial partners into a commercial, volume manufacturing environment. MFI will maintain close ties to Fraunhofer ISIT, and industrial partners will continue to benefit from their knowledge and expertise.

“Commercialization of MEMS and creation of new market opportunities are key targets for Fraunhofer ISIT,” said Prof. Wolfgang Benecke, ISIT's managing director. “The alliance of MFI and X-FAB, along with the state-of-art 8-inch R&D capabilities of Fraunhofer ISIT on-site, creates boundless new possibilities in MEMS. Our partnership is unique worldwide.”

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