Two factors promise to trigger the explosive growth in smart-sensor ICs in the near future. The first is the rapid advances that IC manufacturers are making in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Micromachining, both bulk (using deep anisotropic etching) and surface (using thin-film surface layers) are current MEMS processes that many sensor ICs use.
The second growth trigger for smart sensors is the sensor bus standard. The standard will spawn both a wide range of smart-sensor ICs and a generation of sensor-to-network interface chips.
In this market, many companies and countries are in strong competition and as a result there is severe market saturation. The only way to survive in this market is to offer new functions for the same price or to drastically improve the price/performance ratio. One possible way to achieve this is to use novel advanced processing methods and algorithms with self-adopting capabilities.
The degree of integration of microelectronics on a chip can be further increased. Of course, the implementation of the microcontroller in one chip together with the sensing element and the signal-conditioning circuitry is an elegant and preferable engineering solution in the creation of modern smart silicon sensors. However, the combination of monolithic and hybrid integration with advanced processing and conversional methods in many cases is able to achieve magnificent technical and metrological performances for a shorter time-to-market without additional ...