Magnetic Sensor Market Growth Drivers
The magnetic sensor device market is experiencing strong growth driven by increased demand for magnetic sensors in consumer electronics such as rotation sensors and e-compasses in smartphones and wearables, in appliances such as linear position sensors and angle sensors for brushless DC motors, and in automotive applications such as power steering angle detection and electronic throttle control. Market research and consulting firm MarketsandMarkets estimates that the magnetic sensor market will grow from USD 4.3 billion in 2020 to USD 6.2 billion in 2025—a compound annual growth rate of 7.7 percent.*
Thermal annealing has traditionally been used to maximize the magnetoresistance effects of GMR and TMR sensors. However, this approach requires multiple process steps to produce sensors with different magnetic orientations that are mounted in multi-chip packages or processed as integrated monolithic packages. New approaches are needed to reduce these process steps, simplify the overall production flow, provide scalability to smaller footprint, and enable more cost-effective production of integrated monolithic sensor packages.
“The microVEGA xMR from 3D-Micromac provides us with a flexible yet robust approach to integrated magnetic sensor formation that enables us to implement new sensor designs, lower our production cost and scale up to production more quickly. We want to thank 3D-Micromac for their end-to-end support on this new tool, including providing us with access to their process development and contract manufacturing services prior to tool installation. We look forward to continuing our work with them on new technology collaborations,” stated Zack Deiri, president and CEO, Crocus Technology.
Advantages over traditional annealing methods
The microVEGA xMR provides several advantages over thermal annealing for magnetic sensor manufacturing. These include higher precision to enable the processing of smaller magnetic device structures, which results in more devices per wafer, as well as the ability to set different reference magnetization directions on sensors across a single wafer. The system’s on-the-fly spot and variable laser energy provide selective heating of the pinning layer in each sensor to “imprint” the intended magnetic orientation. Magnetic field strength and orientation is adjustable by recipe, while high-temperature gradients ensure low thermal impact. This allows sensors to be processed directly next to read-out electronics as well as closer together, and enables the production of smaller sensors—freeing up space for processing more devices per wafer. The result is reduced process steps, simplified production flow, higher yield, and more cost-effective production of integrated monolithic sensor packages.