Miniaturized thin-film piezo-electric-MEMS actuators offer better sound, efficiency
STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, and USound GmbH, an innovative and fast-growing audio company, today announced their collaboration on the industrialization and production of the world’s first miniature piezoelectric MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) actuators for smart audio systems in portable devices.
The patented micro-speaker technology from USound aims to replace commonly used balanced-armature and electrodynamic receivers for handsets with a small piezo-MEMS actuator. Manufactured using ST’s industry-leading thin-film piezo-electric (TFP) technology, these actuators will improve scalability and cost while assuring lower power consumption and heat dissipation in hearables and smartphones devices, without compromising audio quality.
“USound’s technology and the transition to piezo-MEMS actuators will bring semiconductor reliability, manufacturing efficiencies and – most importantly to the consumer – sound improvements to portable devices,” said Anton Hofmeister, Vice President and GM of MEMS Microactuators Division, STMicroelectronics. “The announcement is a further step by ST, the worldwide leader in consumer and mobile sensors, to expand our MEMS portfolio by leveraging our valuable actuation technology to address large market opportunities with high barriers to entry.”
“With its outstanding semiconductor and MEMS expertise, ST is the ideal partner to bring this never-seen-before technology to the market,” said Ferruccio Bottoni, CEO of USound. “Compared to standard speakers, our piezo-MEMS devices offer unprecedented mechanical precision, improving audio reproduction fidelity and device reliability in very thin form factors. As the first-of-its-kind device, our MEMS “Moon” speaker targets earphone applications, bringing superior performance to the audio world at a competitive price.”
The USound/ST technology will be on show in the ST stand at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (Feb 27-Mar 2). The companies anticipate the piezo-electric MEMS actuator will move into production in Q3 of this year and will be shipping in consumer products by the end of the year.