MEMS, or MicroElectroMechanical Systems, are a class of semiconductor chips that also contain mechanical or moving parts. They function as accelerometers in cars for airbag deployment in collisions, in the iPhone to manipulate screen orientation, and in the Wii game system as a motion-sensitive controller. They work as silicon pressure sensors to monitor car tire pressures.
MEMS devices cover a broad spectrum of products such as accelerometers, digital mirror displays, gyroscopes, micro fluidic devices, microphones, and pressure sensors Because they are such a diverse lot, the have fared better than the overall semiconductor industry. The semiconductor industry declined 2.8% in 2008 and we project it to drop another 21.6% in 2009. The MEMs device market, in contrast, grew 1.2% in 2008 and we project it to increase 1.7% in 2009.
The MEMs device market is faring much better than the overall semiconductor industry but, the MEMs processing equipment market is suffering the same fate as the semiconductor equipment market.
The MEMs equipment market dropped 37.5% in 2008 and we project a further drop of 31.2% in 2009, decreases similar to the 32.5% drop in 2008 and our projected 41.0% drop in 2009 for semiconductor equipment.
As I stated in a SeekingAlpha article on Monday, the semiconductor equipment market should see a rebound starting before October. Fortunately, the MEMs equipment market started to rebound in Q2, while we don’t see an uptick in the overall semiconductor equipment market until mid-Q3.
Companies in the MEMs equipment space include Tegal, Aviza Technology, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc., Lam Research Corporation, Novellus, Tokyo Electron Limited , OC Oerlikon Corporation AG, Plasma-Therm LLC, Ulvac Japan, Ltd., Canon Anelva Technix Corporation, Oxford Instruments, NEXX Systems, and Sumitomo Precision Products / Surface Technology Systems.