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New Technology

At world R&D Headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, Omron creates new smart technologies (as seen in compact, lightweight, easy, efficient, fast, and optimal solutions) that, unlike conventional sensing technologies, are not limited strictly to data input function, but rather integrate the areas of sensing & control to output high-value information for subsequent human or system processing. This sensing & control expertise forms the concept for the core technologies that have paved the way for many of OMRON's unique and advanced technologies.

MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems)

ButterflyMEMS Technology At The Heart Of Omron Flow Sensors

View the Product Technnology Module Flash video HERE

Text BoxA major advantage of MEMS Flow Sensors is their ability to measure flow speed from 1 mm/s to 40 m/s.  To put this into perspective, this covers a range from the fluttering of a butterfly's wings to the roar of a typhoon. At the heart of the MEMS Flow Sensor, there is a tiny sensor element; the Omron MEMS Flow Sensor chip which is only 1.5 mm square by 0.4 mm thick.

Conventional flow sensors use a resistance measurement method based on a natural characteristic that causes the electrical resistance of a material to change due to changes in temperature. This method has a number of disadvantages, though, such as the high cost required for the extremely time-consuming adjustment of the resistance balance.

In contrast the Omron MEMS Flow Sensor, which by the way was the industry's first to apply this technology, utilizes an element called a thermopile that converts thermal energy into electrical energy. This revolutionary method delivered a variety of previously nonexistent advantages, including low-cost operation because there are few adjustments required, low power consumption, and high sensitivity.
The chip’s two sets of thermopiles, located on either side of a tiny heater element, are used to measure the deviations in heat symmetry caused by gas flowing in either direction. A thin layer of insulating film protects the sensor chip from exposure to the gas. 

When there is no flow present, temperature distribution concentrated around the heater is uniform and the differential voltage over the two thermopiles is 0V (Diagram1). When even the smallest flow is present, temperature on the side of the heater facing the flow cools, and warms up on the other side of the heater - heat symmetry collapses.  The difference of temperature appears as a differential voltage between the two thermopiles, proportional to the mass flow rate.

Flow Graphic

Diagram 1. Omron was the first manufacturer to utilize thermopile technology to measure flow rate.  

Sensing AreaOmron’s unique etching technologies (Diagram 2) were used to create a unique shape that gives their flow sensing chip it’s superb characteristics by  providing a larger sensing area compared to Conventional Silicon Etching in the same volume.  This cavity design enables efficient heating with low power consumption.

MEMS CircuitTo keep the heater temperature above that of the gas being measured, temperature compensating circuitry, which could be described as an “expanded bridge circuit” is incorporated in all Omron flow sensors (except the very economical D6F-V clogged filter/air velocity sensor).  This expanded circuit arrangement provides improved temperature characteristics over an ordinary bridge circuit (Diagram 3). 

Furthermore, it allows for a factory-adjustable cross point of the temperature characteristic resulting in higher output stability with fluctuating ambient temperatures. 

For optimal mass flow readings across the MEMS chip, a uniform, laminar flow through the sensor is highly desirable.  Omron’s in-line mass flow sensors, such as the D6F-01/02/03/05/10/20/50 series, incorporate a set of screens in the sensor inlets to accomplish this, resulting in high repeatability.  Pulsing flows can also present a problem for mass flow measurement.  The D6F-01A/02A series uses an orifice in the outlet side of the sensor to buffer such flows (Diagram 4), often eliminating the need for an external buffer tank.

MEMS orifice

With the advent of this MEMS technology one must seriously consider taking utilizing these flow sensors. They deliver superior repeatable flow rate measurement, lower applied cost since calibration by the customer is not necessary (they are individually calibrated at the factory), low power consumption and high sensitivity. Omron has a team of experts ready to help you with any of your design challenges. View ALL of Omron's flow sensors by visiting the product page.


Semiconductor Micro Fabrication Technology

MEMS Foundry Header
MEMS Foundry Features

Full Set of Services from Development to Manufacturing

OMRON's Minakuchi Factory in Shiga Pref. has the extensive experience in the field of MEMS Foundry for volume manufacturing which enables full set of services from development to manufacturing, and has shipped 25,000k pieces of MEMS products in total by 2006.
In addition, our new foundry (incorporated in April, 2007 in Yasu, Shiga Pref.) possesses Japan's first mass production line for 8 inches.
We have a variety of services to meet requirements from 4-5 inch wafers (with our conventional factory) to 8 inches.

Clean Room for MEMS only - Minakuchi Foundry - Renewed and Expanded in Jan. 2003

MEMS Foundry 1

MEMS Foundry 2

MEMS Foundry 3

Metal Deposition Area

Bonding Area

Photolithography room

Floor space : 600sqm


Bulk/Surface Micromachining technology and Facilities

In addition to the common processes of manufacturing semiconductors - Bipolar Si Line, CMOS Line, OMRON offers MEMS technology and factory for Bulk Micromachining, such as Anodic Bonding, ECE, Deep RIE, and lines for Glass only, which differentiate from the conventional processes.

OMRON has long time experience in volume production for Anodic Bonding and ECE.
We have the technology and facilities for Surface Micromachining, with Surface MEMS processing and monolithic MEMS processing.

In contrast to the two-dimensional structure of integrated circuits, MEMS technology produces three-dimensional semiconductor structures with sub-micrometer precision. These smart structures yield ultra-compact, ultra-fast devices that help OMRON develop optimal new forms of sensing & control for the new age.

High-Precision Processing - Electroforming

Electroforming is widely used where the mechanical process is not practical due to high resolution and precision requirement. It copies superfine and complex pattern accurately.

What is electroforming?
When thick plating is done to the surface of the mother die and the electrodeposited layer flaked off, the shape which is quite opposite to the mother die is obtained.

    1. The size accuracy is extremely high, and it is steady. The dimensional error of the reproduced goods is within ±1µm over 100mm, moreover, the distortion of the surface is 50µm or less.
    2. The defect caused by foreign body is extremely few because of the clean room production.
    3. The side can be transcribed in high accuracy. Moreover, if the matrix is a mirror finish, it is possible to use as a mirror finish without the finish processing. 4) Because the material is a nickel, hardness is high and durability is sufficient. It is possible to use as a mold for molding meta

    1. Metal mold for liquid crystal display optical guided-wave devices and metal mold for non-spherical micro lens
    2. Metal mold for micro Fresnel lenses
    3. Stamper for optical disks such as CD and DVD
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