A team of students from France has won the Global MEMS Design Contest 2018 with a proposed design that harvests from motion using electrostatic transduction. The team from EISEE Paris and Sorbonne University will now see its proposal turned into physical devices by X-Fab as well as picking up a $5000 cash prize.
The contest began two years ago in a co-operation between Cadence Design Systems, Coventor, X-Fab, and Reutlingen University. "The idea came out of a project sponsored by the German ministry of education in 2015. The intention of that project was to create a MEMS PDK that would reduce the complexity of creating MEMS designs," explained Anton Klotz, head of Cadence's EMEA university program, ahead of the presentation to the winning team at this year's CDNLive EMEA in Munich, Germany. "We wanted to see what students would come up with if they used the PDK."
The design contest was launched two years ago at the 2016 Design, Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) conference. Contest submissions were received from around the world, and three semifinalist teams were selected in February 2018 to compete for the grand prize. A panel of industry professionals and respected academics selected the grand prize winner based upon the degree of innovation demonstrated in the hardware and methodology, the novelty of the application, adherence to the design flow, and the educational value of the submission.
"We saw a lot of ideas that the students brought up. One idea was reprogrammable logic using mechanical structures based on MEMS technology. Another developed a genetic algorithm for designing non-linear sensors that very fancy curves for the optimization of noise. We also saw new kinds of accelerometers and pressure sensors," Klotz added.
The mechanical reprogrammable logic cells formed part of an entry from a finalist team based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Taking the second prize, the KAUST team created a MEMS resonator that could be used for oscillators, tunable filters and reprogrammable logic.
Third place went to a team from the University of Liege, Microsys, KU Leuven and Zhejiang University for their genetic algorithm for the design of non-linear MEMS sensors. They used the algorithms to design a capacitive MEMS accelerometer.
"We were impressed with the high-calibre and creativity of the designs submitted," said Sanjay Lall, regional vice president EMEA of Cadence.
Contestants simulated their designs using a combination of Coventor's MEMS simulation environment and the Cadence Spectre tools for transient simulations. All three finalists had the opportunity to present their winning entries to an audience of design professionals at CDNLive EMEA 2018.
Details of the the winning teams and their contest entries are at the MEMS Design Contest website.