Micro-machined Ultrasonic Mass Air Flow Sensor

Request Number REQ1332001
Due Date January 27, 2017
Author Jos Cenens
Request for Proposal Details
RFP Title
Micro-machined Ultrasonic Mass Air Flow Sensor
RFP Description

NineSigma, representing a multinational company, is looking for a micro-machined ultrasonic mass flow air sensor that can be used at a temperature range from -40°C to 150°C and above. Key features for the intended high volume applications are small size, high robustness against temperature conditions, robustness against contamination and low cost.


Many applications of ultrasound for sensing, actuation and imaging require miniaturized and low power transducers and transducer arrays integrated with electronic systems. In recent years, various micro-machined ultrasonic transducers have come on the market for a variety of uses, especially in the medical sector where they are used for fluid flow applications. Due to limits in robustness against high temperature and contamination, no micro air flow sensing device has been on the industrial market.


NineSigma’s client has a range of potential high volume applications. In order to accelerate time to market, the client has issued this open request looking for suitable micro-machined devices that can be adapted for industrial use.


Key Success Criteria

The successful technology will:

  • Provide at least the sensing elements
  • Be small in size
    • 2x2 up to 3x3 mm die size of unpackaged MEMS
    • Without over-molding package for electronics
  • Be low cost
    • Target is <1USD at an estimated production volume of 5 to 20 million per year
  • Be robust against high temperature conditions
    • Sensor use in a range from  -40°C up to 150°C are foreseen
    • Higher temperature applications of up to 200°C are also possible
  • Be robust against dust and particle contamination
    • Substantial flow rates of grams per hour are expected in some of the anticipated applications
  • Be reliable with mass flow accuracy of 0.2 m/s at speeds up to 60 m/s
    • Tolerance of 1% of reading
    • Operation will be at atmospheric pressures
  • Have a long lifetime
    • >10 years
  • Have the potential for integration in single chip solution
    • Approaches including electrical interconnection and integration with on-chip electronics are of high interest (e.g. pre-amplification stage)
    • Additional benefit if sensor and electronics can be fabricated in standard CMOS process


Note: having basic knowledge of ultrasonic transducers, signal acquisition and electronic operation is an important requirement from the participants to this call.


Anticipated Project Phases or Project Plan

Phase 1 – Testing of prototype sensors

  • Client will review proposals and select suitable candidates. Prototype sensors will be tested in a client specified setting. Options for commercialization and large volume production will be evaluated.


Phase 2 – Demonstrator of mass air flow sensor with discrete electronics

  • Fully functional devices will be submitted to in-depth evaluation tests.


Criteria for Moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2


Positive testing and validation results. Be a clear concept for further development steps toward commercial use.


Possible Approaches

Possible approaches might include, but are not limited to:

  • Capacitive Micro-machined Ultrasonic Transducers (CMUTs)
  • Piezoelectric Micro-machined Ultrasonic Transducers (PMUTS)
  • Piezoelectric Film Bulk Acoustic Resonators (FBARs)
  • Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) based ultrasonic transducers
  • Thin and thick film PZT (lead-zirconate-titanate) transducers
  • Arrays of CMUTs
  • Other miniaturized UltraSonic Flow Meter (USFM) approaches


Approaches not of interest

The following approaches are not of interest:

  • Conceptual approaches
  • Early research projects without testable transducer devices


Preferred Collaboration types
  • Joint Development
  • Technology Licensing
  • Technology Acquisition
  • Supply Agreement
Items to be submitted

Your response should address the following:

  • Non-confidential presentation of proposed technology
    • Production process
    • Materials used
    • Key characteristics
    • Development stage
  • Ability to supply prototype devices by Q3 2017
  • Challenges to be overcome and development plan
  • Experience with micro-machined production, signal acquisition and electronic operation
  • IP ownership, options for exclusive use
  • Brief description of organization


Appropriate responses to this Request Responses from companies (small to large), consultants, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, or inventors are welcome.  For example:


You represent a company that has demonstrated a proof of concept for a micro-machined transducer which is able to measure distance or flow in air

You represent a company that has a bench-scale demonstration of a micro machined setup that can measure gas flows in a wide range of pressure and temperatures


Area of Interest
Request Priority
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