Bruno Murari: The Father Of MEMS Accelerometer

Bruno Murari - Greatest Italian Inventor

Written by Andrea Rossi


Each generation of human civilization is graced by brilliant inventors. Some of them are remembered for centuries, while others go unsung. Knowingly or not, most of us are exposed to one of the most brilliant inventions of all time.

Remember the fun to race through the streets on your mobile screen by tilting the smartphone. It is only made possible with a multi-axis accelerometer. The same electronics component is also the heart of the emergency airbag system, which ensures it activates in a split second.

Meet Bruno Murari, the man whose brilliance has touched ours in many ways through his inventions.

Bruno Muraris inventions


Bruno Murari, Unrivalled In Analog Designs

Bruno Murari is a proud Italian who grew up in Venice. He has a solid academic background with a degree in electrical engineering from the Pacinotti Technical Institute and a post-graduate electronics degree from the Beltrami Institute.

He launched his career with Edison Volta, where he’s involved in designing power substations. Yet, his greatest contributions to the electronics industry started when he joined SGS, now STMicroelectronics, in 1961.

Murari’s passion for electronics eventually got him promoted in 1972 to lead the linear IC design and development in the company. In 1981, Bruno Murari took another leap forward as he’s put in charge of an R&D facility in Castelletto. There, Murari leads a team of researchers who work tirelessly to unveil a new generation of smart power ICs and MEMS to the world.

The work that Bruno Murari is involved in is challenging, even for most electronics designers. Analog designs are a different world than their digital counterpart. There isn’t a binary logic of ‘1’ and ‘0’ in analog designs. Everything in between is a valid signal, and precision is vital to ensure that analog signals are not compromised.

Bruno Murari is a league on his own, and his feats in ST Microelectronics involve the design of more than 2,000 ICs and have obtained more than 200 patents.


Bruno Murari And The MEMS Accelerometer

Bruno Murari’s brightest invention is barely visible, literally, but the changes it made to various industries are nothing short of enormous. His years ofdesign experience and leadership lead to the development of the MEMS accelerometer in 1995.

MEMS is an acronym of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems, which is basically a miniaturized electro-mechanical module with a tiny form factor. Think of springs and dozens of electronics components shrunk to the size of a ladybug.

Despite the tiny size, the MEMS accelerometer precisely measures the displacement of electrodes that are held by a spring. It measures the changes when the accelerator is subjected to sudden movement and outputs an analog or digital signal that corresponds to the acceleration.

The idea of creating a miniaturized accelerometer may sound simple, but it is anything but. It takes an electronics genius to put 40 layers of electro-mechanic circuits into a 1 mm square silicon wafer. MEMS accelerometer soon became one of STMicroelectronics’ best-selling components.

Today, Bruno Murari’s MEMS accelerometer lives on. Rival manufacturers have picked up the significance of his invention and are producing their own versions of accelerometers.

Bruno Murari at Maker Faire 2019


How Bruno Murari’s Invention Changed the World

Bruno Murari’s invention may be a tiny speck that’s barely visible to the human’s sight. However, its implication to the world in decades to come is nothing short of gigantic. MEMS accelerator becomes one of the most sought-after electronic components all over the world, including Shenzhen.

The tiny device finds its way to many products and revolutionizes how they operate in different ways. Those who own smartphones got a taste of Murari’s invention when they’re introduced to games that involved tilting the phone. A 3-axis accelerometer embedded in the smartphone allows the detection of sensitive movement by the users.

Shenzhen electronic components distributors also see an increasing demand for MEMS accelerometers for the automotive industry. The miniature component would turn lifesavers when integrated into the airbag system. The airbag system compares the acceleration signal from the bumper crash sensor and the central console. It activates the airbag release when both signals are mismatched.

The accelerometer’s life-saving feats are not restricted to the road. MEMS accelerometer has also revolutionized the healthcare industry. Medical devices like the CPR assist, biofeedback monitors and scanning instruments have incorporated MEMS accelerometers to provide precise positional and angular feedback.

Lately, IoT is a buzzword in the manufacturing industry. It is core to Industrial Revolution 4.0 and is fueled by the idea of connecting manufacturing facilities to the cloud. The accelerometer is incorporated into IoT devices to measure the vibration of machinery parts like bearing and shaft. It helps to monitor the condition of the machines and report signs of impending failure.


Incorporating Accelerometer In Electronics Design

The MEMS accelerometer is such a unique invention that you’ll probably need to include in your upcoming products. However, before you start contacting electronic components distributors in Shenzhen, you’ll need to consider which accelerometer you’ll want to use in the design.

While STMicroelectronics is the pioneer in MEMS accelerometers, other manufacturers have since introduced their own range of accelerometers. Even within ST, the MEMS accelerometer has evolved into various types. Some are optimized for low-power applications, while others are designed for safety-critical automotive and medical products.

When choosing a MEMS accelerometer, you’ll need to ensure that the component’s key parameters meet your design requirements. This means checking out its operational voltage, frequency, and measurement range, which is measured in gravitational constant (g). You’ll also need to decide if you’re going for one with analog or digital output.

MEMS accelerometer is a tricky component to design and assemble as it has a very small form factor. The PCB footprint needs to be accurate, and you’ll need to engage a vendor that’s capable of reliably assembling the miniature component. Shenzhen is the home to vendors that can assemble tiny electronic components with high precision.


Final Thoughts

Bruno Murari is, without a doubt, one of the greatest geniuses in this era. The accelerometer continues to impact our lives in many positive ways. If you want to source for a MEMS accelerometer, look no further than Shenzhen, the global hub for high-quality electronic components.


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