Microsystems Technology: The Industries That Use Them and Why It Is Important

Aerospace engineering, automotive, and medical industries are just a few that have seen the significance of microsystems technology (MST) in modern times.


But the industrial challenges just kept on building up. This led industries to get abreast of the times by updating with the latest in MST trends.


With that said, here are some of the different uses of microsystems technology and their importance in particular industries.


Microsystems’s technology in medical applications


Otherwise called micro-electromechanical systems or MEMS, microsystems technology has proven useful as an enabling technology for innovative medical devices. Nowadays, they have become part of many medical devices, which include sensors and actuators of all kinds.


The small size of MST components also offers considerable advantages compared to other technologies with its high integration density which enables superior functional performance and improves system reliability.


Notable examples include the cardiac rhythm management implants, cochlear implants, microsurgical instruments, and point of care testing devices.


Ophthalmic current solutions


Microsystems integrate into medical instruments for measuring intraocular pressure. This is through pressure and strain sensors that stimulate electrodes, microelectronics, and additional microsystems.


Medical microsystems are also combined into medical instruments and tools to help in the process of ophthalmic surgery. There is also significant progress made in the field of multi-vision intraocular lenses for the replacement of lenses with cataracts.


Microelectronics technology for the aerospace industry


Due to the demanding performance and reliability requirements of the aerospace industry, MST provides exceptionally reliable solutions. Such solutions are based on experience and comprehensive knowledge in challenging industries like active implants.


With miniaturization capabilities and 100% traceability, MST also provides a comprehensive collection of materials and processes for advanced equipment in communication, radar, and other airborne control applications.


Micro metal injection molding


There is a potential for powder injection molding for microsystems technology. In fact, it is one of the most promising future technologies today. Such innovations are now in different markets: information technology, life sciences, automotive and power engineering, machine construction, and chemical and physical process engineering, among others.


Wireless integrated microsystems


The addition of non-electrical components to the wireless sensor microsystems has been given emphasis in wireless integrated microsystems (WIMS). This is the combination of semiconductor and microelectromechanical elements into a single hybrid system to enhance system functionality and expand the application space.


One of the notable examples of a hybrid WIMS is the prototype gas chromatography system to provide highly sensitive chemical detection. Furthermore, the combination of MEMS with embedded signal processing and wireless communication is enabling new applications to cover different areas, such as food and environmental monitoring, healthcare, homeland security, and many others.


Photonic crystals in microsystems


Optical microsystems come from a wide variety of micro-optical components, such as micro-lenses and micro-mirrors. These rely on the guiding of light in waveguides, which plays a major role in the application of photonic microsystems to optical communications.


Various applications have emerged for photonic crystals relevant to microsystems. Such would include the 2D waveguide structures with ultra-compact couplers, splitters, and bends. Other uses of photonic crystal structures in passive optical systems include resonators and large-area biosensors.

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mixed signal asic

Uses of Mixed Signal ASIC in Industrial Application and Medical Imaging

Mixed Signal ASIC Overview

A mixed signal ASIC refers to the chip that uses both digital and analog circuit design on the same chip. Today, mixed signal chips are everywhere and used in different industries like electronics, mobile devices, aero electronics, and automotive, industrial, and medical applications.

In the medical and industrial fields, mixed signal ASICs are proven essential tools for increased reliability and efficiency. The development of innovative mixed signal ASICs paved way for the industrial and medical industries. Due to their success, they came up with devices and designs that are highly cost and performance effective.

The Benefits of Mixed Signal ASIC for Industrial Application

  • High level of integration
  • Reduction of cost
  • Low power
  • High reliability
  • Hard to copy, gives you protection in terms of intellectual property

The Benefits of Mixed Signal ASIC for Medical Imaging

  • More simple board testing
  • Simpler design
  • Lesser design components
  • Low BOM cost
  • Higher performance including power consumption, speed, and reliability
  • Low power requirement
  • Low noise while meeting high voltage requirement


Uses of Mixed Signal ASICs

The use of mixed signal ASICs in the medical industry plays a significant role in the diagnosis, treatment, management, and monitoring of patients. The availability of mixed signal ASICS provided advanced imaging techniques to improve the understanding of human anatomy and the complexity of existing medical and health conditions.

For example, mixed signal ASICS have been used for ultrasound, CT scans, X-rays, MRI, and 3-dimensional imaging. These advanced visualization approaches have the paved way for medical experts and professionals to better understand complex issues through accurate and precise images in different angles and varying depths.

Different medical specializations have taken advantage of the positive impacts provided by mixed signal ASICs in medical imaging. These practices include orthopedics, cardio-pulmonary, neurology, oncology, internal medicine, diagnostic radiology, surgery, urology, and more.

A detailed and precise digital image is not only beneficial for the treatment or management of an existing condition, but also a great source of detecting early signs of a medical condition.

Although the human body is basically the same, an individual’s anatomy may be different from the other, hence, highly accurate medical images are vital in surgery planning.

That way, a surgeon can carry out a surgical plan before doing the procedure that ensures the safety of the patient without wasting time. The same goes with post-surgery monitoring for faster recovery.

The use of mixed signal ASIC in medical imaging also aids the clinician in designing a personalized medical device. One example would be for splints that support the patient’s comfort while augmenting recovery time.


Although mixed signal ASICs are already in industrial and medical applications, it will take time before they make it in other industries.

Nevertheless, this technology will continue to contribute to improving medical diagnosis, treatment, and management.

In conclusion, Mixed Signal ASICs are tremendously favorable for the medical industry.


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asic chip

ASIC Chip vs FPGA: Which is Better?

ASIC Chip stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit which is designed for one specific purpose while FPGA is short for Field Programmable Gate Array which can be programmed and reprogrammed to work as per intended design.

Comparison between ASIC Chip and FPGA


  • An ASIC chip cannot change and will function the same throughout its operating life. On the other hand, FPGA can reconfigure while the other parts of the chip remain the same.
  • ASIC is suitable for high volume mass production while FPGA is not.
  • The use of ASIC only requires less power consumption compared to FPGA which is less energy efficient.
  • ASIC runs on higher frequency in contrast to FPGAs limited operating frequency.
  • ASICs are more flexible in comparison to FPGA with limited analog designs.
  • FPGAs are highly suitable for designs that require updates while ASICs are not fitting for applications that need an upgrade.


Choosing between FPGA and ASIC depends on your target market, speed requirement, power necessity, and expected price range. But when working on achieving cost effective with high efficiency and better results, ASIC is the better choice.


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3d imaging asic

The Use of 3D Imaging ASIC in Medicine

The availability of 3D imaging ASIC has revolutionized the way health and medical care professionals create accurate models of every part of the human body.

With more detailed images, it is easier to detect medical conditions that are not possible especially during the early signs of an emerging condition. The creation of in-depth imaging helped medical and health care providers carry out the best treatment and management for their patients.

Advances in three-dimensional imaging techniques provide important benefits for both doctors and patients. Custom-made medical equipment and products have proved to offer positive impacts in different medical-related activities including implants and surgeries.

Besides, it is known to give beneficial influence in terms of patient recovery time, the required time for surgery, and the success of any surgical operation. With its satisfactory advantages, the use of 3D imaging ASIC is anticipated to be universally used in the coming years for accuracy and efficiency in every medical specialization.

3D Imaging in Healthcare Applications

Three-dimensional imaging is critical to several medical diagnostic and therapeutic applications. This is because the value of this technology has immensely elevated the way physicians and medical specialists accurately diagnose, manage, and do procedures to save money and time.

Diagnostic Imaging

3D imaging captures highly accurate images in multiple angles or varying depths according to the referring physician’s needs. Due to this, the technology helps medical experts see things clearly and avoid or minimize the risk of human diagnostic errors.

To be given accurate images which can be synthesized into cross-section, physicians are now given the tools to come up with precise diagnostics and treatment planning.

Surgical Planning

Surgeons are now able to strategize more precisely before any surgical procedure through the aid of 3D imaging ASIC. In the same token, better visualization of the human anatomy is possible with the existence of 3D imaging.

Increased understanding of the complex human body provides more detailed information about a certain condition and surgical planning.


In today’s modern technology, medical experts can share their expertise with practitioners across the globe.

This is because with three-dimensional imaging, team members can work together without the need of being physically there. As a result, telemedicine or teleconsultation cuts down the need to transport patients to other facilities.

3D Printing

3D imaging ASIC allows medical professionals to come up with customized medical plans, devices, or tools faster than before. The recent advances in technology aid clinicians to develop better approaches, treatment, and management of different medical conditions. This goes to help with patient comfort, satisfaction, and rehabilitation.

Benefits of 3D Imaging

To conclude, here are some of the overall benefits of 3D imaging:

  • Improved productivity
  • Cost efficiency
  • High accuracy
  • Customization and personalization
  • Data sharing among researchers for collaboration

Three-dimensional imaging is also useful in areas like orthopedics, neurosurgery, brain imaging, design of prosthesis, oncology, and so much more.

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system on a chip

System on a Chip (SOC) or CPU? Which is Better?

System on a Chip or SOC is an electronic circuit board responsible for integrating all the necessary components in electronic and computer systems.

The components consist of memory, a central processing unit, wireless radios for Wi-Fi, GPS, FM radio, Bluetooth, and 2G/3G/LTE, and USB controller. These are permanently fastened into the motherboard. While compact, fast, and reliable, these parts are not as easily replaceable, requiring finer tuning in the building process to ensure long lasting productivity.

System on a Chip (SOC) is common in single-board computers, smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi routers, game consoles, and other computing devices. SOCs consist metal-oxide-semiconductor technology, having 2 major subsystems: functional unit and inter-module communications.

The functional unit of a SOC holds the microprocessors responsible for memory, running code, and digital signal processors while the second subsystem has the communication networks and topology.

With the power of miniaturization, all these components shrink into one single silicon chip, leaving more space for other functionalities and sections at the same time consuming less power.

Advantages of SOCs

  • Lightweight
  • Consumes less power
  • Greater design security (both for firmware and hardware)
  • Faster performance due to faster memory and faster processor
  • Smaller overall cost

Drawbacks of SOCs

  • Complex
  • Higher or expensive initial cost
  • If the design or functionality consists of smaller SOCs, it can be costly as you pay per SOC

However, in this case the advantages are worth the investment. SOC on average performs better than CPU, and here’s how:

What is a CPU?

The Central Processing Unit or CPU is commonly referred to as the “brain of the computer”. CPU is in charge of tasks like manipulating data and calculations.

A computer’s Central Processing Unit is the one responsible for doing logical input/output operations and arithmetic. Basically, the CPU picks up instructions; what to do, follows these instructions, and executes them. Every key that you press on your computer goes through the CPU to be executed.

Most of the devices that we use today to complete office tasks, research, or entertainment through video games have a CPU. While CPUs function as the core part of a computer system, they are still only a small part of the entire motherboard architecture.

Today, computer systems have multiple CPU cores keeping up with different information being received. Certainly, the more CPU cores installed on your computer, the better. They aid your machine in handling the complexity of websites, graphics, and programs. The more CPUs, the better your computer will perform.

System on a Chip vs CPU

Although CPU is bigger than a SOC, the latter has more functionality compared to a regular CPU. Therefore, based on how the world and technology are consistently changing, it will be of no surprise when regular CPUs have been completely replaced.


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What Makes SOC a Better Choice? SOC and Its Advantages

What should I know about SOC?

System on a Chip or SOC is widely used in today’s modern electronics and computing systems.  SOCs are available in a variety of compositions, sophistication, and complexity depending on the intended use of a specific computing system.

A SOC can range from one single processor system to multiple processor systems with integrated memory controllers, storage elements, and more.

System on a Chip is highly preferable due to its capability and power. Its design is compact which means less power consumption, better power performance, requires less space, and is more reliable.

Below are additional benefits of SOC:

  • Power usage is comparably low since all components are embed and connecting in one single chip. Lower power requirements
  • The design requires less space because all components are on the same chip
  • A smaller size means lightweight and compact
  • Overall and cabling costs are also lower since the media player is already on the display
  • Faster performance and execution because of higher memory and the use of a high-speed processor which is equivalent to greater system reliability
  • Better security design; hardware and firmware wise

Providing numerous advantages and benefits, SOC remains the preferred solution today and the future demand is on the rise.

Interested in learning more about SOC? Click here to view some of our previous blogs all about the ins and outs of system on a chip!

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What Does a Microsystems Engineer Do?


A microsystem engineer researches, designs, develops or tests microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices.  Microsystems engineers use computer software to produce the design they are working with.

Also, these engineers assess their design plans to determine the production cost as well as the efficacy of the products; address issues, if necessary, changes are needed (to improve product or design), and the production process.

Tasks and Duties of a Microsystems Engineer

Daily, a microsystems engineer is responsible for the planning and/or scheduling of development projects about microelectromechanical systems technology.

  • Plan and research about microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology
  • Research development projects about MEMS technology
  • Propose product designs related to MEMS technology while adhering to customer’s requirements, data, and specifications.
  • Manage new product introduction and oversee the successful placement of MEMS applications or devices
  • Develop microelectromechanical systems tools, develop or procure instrumentation, test equipment, or facilities to define MEMS application
  • Develop and handle customer documentation including operating instructions and training manuals
  • Draft intellectual property and patent disclosure related to microelectromechanical systems MEMS products, systems, or devices
  • Develop performance specifications
  • Take note of the operating performance and characteristics at the same time communicate these gathered experiences to fellow engineers and designers for training or development of new products
  • Compose and maintain engineering documents such as materials specifications, bills of materials, and/or packaging requirements
  • Supervise and conducts surveys, reviews, audits, performance monitoring of incoming materials, vendor qualification protocols, and such to ensure its in accordance with specifications

Apart from an engineer’s day–to- day tasks and responsibilities, a microsystem engineer might also conduct environmental testing and product testing to validate products or devices using different tools and simulation software.

Inspection of materials, fabrication methods, evaluation of packing materials, cost, performance, and availability are also part of an engineer’s responsibilities.

Add to that the weekly or monthly tasks to address issues for the improvement and development of microelectromechanical systems product or device designs. This added responsibility also involves the investigation of the cost and process capability using simulation software.

How to become a microsystems engineer?

Getting a career as a microsystems engineer requires a bachelor’s degree in microsystems engineering.  Although this field focuses on elements from electrical engineering, physics, chemistry, and mathematics, one should have good designing skills as the main task involves designing MEMS devices and products.

Anyone with relevant training or a graduate of electrical engineering or mechanical engineering can have a career in this field for entry-level positions.

Apart from a bachelor’s degree or relevant training, one must be very experienced with computer design software, designs, and schematics. Besides, the job requires critical analytic skills to identify potential design issues and address existing problems.

One must also be a great team player with great communication skills to effectively communicate issues with team members to have a clearer understanding of issues related to design or products to come up with a solution based on their analysis.

A microsystems engineer can land a job in the energy sector, communication, automobile industry, medical services, and more.

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A Breakdown of the Job of an Analog Design Engineer

The job of an analog design engineer is to design the circuitry found in analog electronics. Basically, as electronic engineers, they develop and maintain the circuitry by way of testing and troubleshooting, including the supervision of the manufacturing process in factories and plants.


Responsibilities of an analog design engineer


Everyday electronic devices, such as mobile phones, hearing aids, and microwaves, among others are developed by analog circuit design engineers. He or she must at least have a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering with several years of training experience, state-regulated licensure, and passed an engineering exam.


An analog design engineer is required to have a strong analog and digital background. Therefore, he or she must be responsible for several tasks which include the following.


  • Has to come out with a proper design, which should be a top-to-bottom approach, starting from highest to lowest level of abstraction.
  • The design must be fed in a CAD software for appropriate simulations.
  • The design must be sent for fabrication following the testing of chips in five stages, beginning from the chip to the field level.
  • Must be able to guarantee proper functionality over maintenance, periodic bug checking, updating, and warranty.
  • Conduct brainstorm for new problems and appropriate solutions.
  • Conduct most of their work in laboratories and offices
  • Usually work forty hours per week
  • Often required to work longer hours to meet deadlines


Software skills required


The analog design engineer should also possess skills in the following software applications.

Cadence virtuoso


This software can help in the pre- and post-layout simulations. Moreover, it can aid the analog design engineer in debugging, optimizing, and adding speed, making it a crucial tool. There are online tutorials to learn using this software.




MatLab or Matrix Laboratory has a lot of toolboxes and functions with great importance to the engineer working on the implementation of complex mathematical functions.


Qualities of an analog design engineer


It is important to note that a potential analog design engineer must have strong understanding and command over the fundamentals, particular in analog electronics. That includes a number of qualities that an analog engineer should possess.


  • Thirst for knowledge
  • Killer spirit
  • Perseverance
  • Tap on the current development
  • Liberal mindset


Requirements of an analog design engineer


  • Holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering
  • Holds a state-regulated licensure from a licensing board, such as the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying
  • Some states require one to have a bachelor’s degree from Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) accredited engineering programs
  • At least have four years of training experience as engineer interns or engineers in training
  • Has completed the licensure process as mandated by their state of employment


Overall, the main duties of the analog design engineer is to create and test specific types of circuits that power electronic devices.


This can range in a wide number of uses. However, there is an expected decline in the employment of this profession by 2018-2028 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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system on a chip

What Is an Inductive Position Sensor ASIC?

Position sensors are used in detection and processing of measurement data on the basis of position of a moving object. In this case, the inductive position sensors will measure the angular positions with the use of arising variations of the magnetic field amplitudes.


Rotations or shifts of the moving magnet induce such amplitudes. However, there are disadvantages for such a traditional solution, which include the costs of the magnet, limit of operating temperature, and sensitivity of the magnetic stray fields.

Application of inductive position sensor ASIC


There is a need for position sensors nowadays particularly in the automotive industry. These include the accelerator pedal sensors, gearbox control position sensors, head lamp position sensors, steering angle sensors, turbocharger actuator systems, and throttle body position sensors, among others.


Potentiometers traditionally equip such sensors, but with the reliability disadvantages of mechanical contact sensors  In modern cars, such potentiometers are replaceable with electronic contactless sensors on the basis of different principles, such as hall sensors, inductive sensors, or magneto-resistive sensors.


Composition of inductive sensors


An inductive contactless sensor consists of a rotor or cursor and a stator. The rotor or cursor is a passive element designed in a special geometry with a single closed winding. The stator has an excitation coil, electronics, and receiver coils for signal processing.


Development of inductive sensor ASIC


Contactless, magnet-free, inductive position sensors can take advantage of ASIC. These sensors use the physical induction principles in a wire loop and eddy currents for detecting the position of an electro-conductive target. This will glide or rotate over a set of receiver coils.


The sensor has a structure of PCB coils and a target having specifically formed layers from conductive material. Each of the coils is part of the oscillating circuit stimulated by the high-frequency sinus signal.


The magnetic field results in the induction of eddy currents in the metallic target and the opposing field reduces the inductance of the coil. So, both the amplitude of the oscillating circuit and the phase are changing.


The described effect differs and a signal emits from the ASIC that is proportional to the conductive material’s surface. But this depends on the influence of the surface of the conductive material to the coil.


Two coils comprise a sensor element in which each is a part of an oscillating circuit. A phase difference between the resonance signals can be measured from the ASIC when the said coils are influenced asymmetrically by the conductive material of the target.


This phase difference as well as the resulting output signal is sensitive towards the electrical and magnetic influences.




The harsh automotive environment is manageable through an inductive position sensor. This is possible by providing a powerful solution in comparison to other concepts. This type of sensor can be very precise without any contact between the stator and the moving part.


This is quite suitable for applications with frequent sensor movements even if an exceptional accuracy is of need. The sensor ASIC is configurable as a dual, fully redundant system for the purpose of safety relevant applications.

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mixed signal asic

How Mixed Signal ASIC Can Be Used in Machine-Learning Algorithms

A study was able to determine how mixed signal ASIC was able to accelerate diverse machine-learning (ML) algorithms.

Knowing machine-learning algorithms


Basically, machine-learning algorithms process huge datasets rapidly, giving helpful insights to a particular outcome. Nowadays, there are many emerging applications that has increasing dependencies on the ability to extract patterns from huge data sets in support to inference and decision-making with ML algorithms.


Thousands of data sources are analyzed simultaneously using machine learning algorithms. This makes it impossible for human traders to achieve. That is because machine learning algorithms can help them squeeze a slim advantage over the market average.


ML algorithms offer higher performance in comparison to humans particularly in cognitive and decision-making tasks. However, more computing capability is needed due to the complex computation in processing larger amounts of data.

Meeting challenging demands


The challenges in meeting the computational demands of general purpose processors, the use of specialized processors has been applied. As a result, such ML accelerators will be able to deliver orders of magnitude higher energy efficiency more than general purpose processors can provide.


However, the use of analog or mixed signal accelerators can be useful for improving the energy efficiency of machine learning accelerators. Comparing these to traditional large-signal computations in the digital domain, these are much more energy-efficient.


But still, such accelerators lack the programmable architecture, compiler support, or instruction sets to support architecture software. These are important in supporting high-level programming languages like Julia or Python.


In addition, there are tradeoffs in energy versus accuracy due to the algorithmic error tolerance in allowing hardware-level small-signal computations. with this case, there must be a control at the application level to meet the application domain accuracy or precision goals.


In such a case, there is a need for careful hardware, instruction set architecture, and compiler design.

Designing programmable mixed-signal accelerators


The use of programmable mixed signal accelerator can address the challenges in the previous applications. This can help diverse ML algorithms to accomplish a high level of programmability without affecting mixed-signal accelerator efficiency for specific machine-learning algorithms.


Basically, mixed signal ASIC uses both analog and digital circuits on a single semiconductor die. This is most common in smart mobile phones as mixed signal designs are everywhere.


Advantages of using mixed signal ASIC


  • Exposes instruction set mechanisms to allow software to control over the said tradeoffs in energy vs. accuracy
  • Supports the compilation of high-level languages
  • Offers an alternative line of integration through the use of computer memory
  • Energy benefits through optimal swing values gained through compiler directed energy optimization




Overall, the utilization of the first end-to-end design of mixed signal ASIC will accomplish high-level programmability. This aims to do it without compromising the efficiency of mixed signal accelerators for particular machine learning algorithms.


The development of a new technology has enabled software control over tradeoffs in energy versus accuracy. It also supports the compilation of high-level languages down to the hardware. Thus, it has better energy efficiency compared to digital ASICs even with much greater programmability.


This also shows significant energy savings resulting from tolerable small programmer-specified errors.


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