MEMS market applies full throttle, fueled by automotive and wireless demand

April 23, 2013 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Microelectromechanical system (MEMS) pressure sensors will achieve accelerated growth this year and become the leading type of MEMS device, driven by increasing use in automotive and the fast-growing handset space, according to insights from market researcher IHS.

According to the IHS iSuppli MEMS & Sensors Service, revenue for MEMS pressure sensors this year will reach a projected $1.71 billion, up 14 percent from $1.50 billion in 2012. This year's growth improves on the already solid 11 percent increase of 2012, but even rosier prospects are in store next year when expansion peaks at 16 percent. Steady, uninterrupted growth will continue until at least 2017, by which time the market will be worth $2.49 billion, the market experts say.

Seamingly endless growth is what IHS predicts for the MEMS market. Main drivers are automotive and, increasingly, wireless handhelds.

Used for control and monitoring purposes in a broad range of applications including Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), as well as gas or air pressure sensors and air flow sensors in exhaust pipes, HVAC systems, air intake systems and many others, pressure sensors are set this year to become the biggest-selling MEMS device, displacing the incumbent leaders: accelerometers and gyroscopes.

“Pressure sensors play a key role in automotive safety,” said Richard Dixon, Ph.D., principal analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS. “Because of this, the biggest market remains the automotive segment, where the sensors predominate in tire-pressure monitoring and braking systems. However, wireless applications—led by mobile handsets—will see the most explosive growth this year, up by 90 percent. Other important markets for pressure sensors are in medical electronics, industry, white goods and military/aerospace.”

In automotive, MEMS pressure sensor revenue in 2013 is expected to amount to $1.26 billion, or fully 74 percent of total industry revenue for the year. At least 18 automotive applications will fuel the market, including tire pressure, brake sensors used in electronic stability control systems, side airbags, engine control related to increasingly stringent emissions regulations worldwide, barometric pressure and exhaust gas recirculation pressure.

A rapidly growing new application is in gasoline direct-injection systems using high-pressure sensors up to 200 bar. Gasoline engines, especially in Europe where