Auto market pushes pressure sensors to most used MEMS

Pressure sensors will lead the charge for MEMS, penned in to become the top device as soon as 2014, according to analysts at IHS.

This is because of their increasing adoption in the automotive, medical and industrial segments. As the automotive industry managed to bounce back from the last recession, pressure senor MEMS generated $1.22 billion in revenue, up 26 percent from 2009. 

In fact the automative sector is the largest area for MEMS pressure sensors, holding the lion’s share at 72 percent. Then medical electronics has 11 percent and the industrial segment has 10 percent. The rest is made up of consumer electronics and military-aerospace applications, reports IHS. 

Car makers need MEMS sensors because they’re vital  in brake and tire pressure monitors, which tend to help the passenger avoid getting mangled in car crashes. Similarly, aircraft tend to use the pressure sensors to monitor critical components like the engines, as well as altitude air pressure. 

MEMS pressure sensors are membrane elements that deflect under pressure, says IHS, which can be measured by piezoresistive sensing or by a change in distance between two plates, through capacitive sensing. 

Next year won’t be as strong with only a 6.6 percent boost in market share. But double digit growth is expected for 2012. When 2014 rolls around, revenue for MEMS pressure sensors should sit at roughly $1.85 billion, according to IHS.

Although accelerometers and gyroscopes have flooded the market, IHS senior MEMS analyst Richard Dixon believes they will become the top MEMS device in revenue in just three years. This will be thanks to very steady market expansion, he says.

MEMS pressure sensors have a wide variety of uses, and so the price will vary with that. High-value industrial and medical uses can see the sensors cost up to tens of dollars, while specialised applications such as for aircraft hydraulics or air data measurements can reach as high as hundreds of dollars a piece.