How MEMS and Entrepreneurs are Driving IoT

How MEMS and Entrepreneurs are Driving IoT
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Thornton 102
Kurt Petersen, Ph.D. (Silicon Valley Band of Angels)
Abstract / Description: 

The application of MEMS sensors and other devices into mobile products is a recent phenomenon, only about 8 years. But, this new use of MEMS technology has caused the field to skyrocket. The MEMS market is now over $15B and rising twice as fast, on an annual basis, as the semiconductor market. Previously reticent silicon foundries are embracing MEMS enthusiastically. New MEMS inventions, largely coming out of academia, are revolutionizing how we sense and interact with the world around us. The combination of MEMS, wireless technology, growing IoT markets, growing health-monitoring markets, and the worldwide entrepreneurial environment will be catapulting MEMS to new heights in the next 10 years. While about 8 key MEMS technologies are in very high volume production today, another 15-20 new, high volume products are on the horizon. The current support infrastructure for entrepreneurs is making it even easier to transition such R&D devices into production. We will discuss the past and future of MEMS and how the new entrepreneurial culture is transforming the evolution of IoT.


Dr. Petersen received his BS degree cum laude in EE from UC Berkeley in 1970. In 1975, he received a PhD in EE from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Petersen established a micromachining research group at IBM from 1975 to 1982, during which he wrote the review paper "Silicon as a Mechanical Material," published in the IEEE Proceedings (May 1982). This paper is still the most frequently referenced work in the field of micromachining and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS).

Since 1982, Dr. Petersen has co-founded six successful companies in MEMS technology, Transensory Devices Inc. in 1982, NovaSensor in 1985 (acquired by GE), Cepheid in 1996 (now a public company on NASDAQ: CPHD), SiTime in 2004 (acquired by MegaChips), Profusa in 2008 (still private), and Verreon in 2009 (acquired by Qualcomm).

In 2011, Dr. Petersen joined the Band of Angels in Silicon Valley. The Band is an angel investment group which mentors and invests in early stage, high-tech, start-up companies. Today, he spends most of his time helping and mentoring such companies.

Dr. Petersen has published over 100 papers, and has been granted over 35 patents in the field of MEMS. In 2001 he was awarded the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal for his contributions to MEMS. Dr. Petersen is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is a Life Fellow of the IEEE in recognition of his contributions to "the commercialization of MEMS technology".