ICsense, a TDK Group Company and independent subsidiary that focuses on the supply of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and custom chip design services, has started mass production of a new chemical sensor interface ASIC.

The custom IC was developed for inclusion in a wearable design and is now being produced in large volumes to meet demand requirements. This project was undertaken for a large US-based client. It is expected that several hundred million units will be shipped over the coming 4 years.

ICsense was selected for the project because of the company’s long track record of developing/manufacturing high-performance sensor readout ICs, alongside its vast industrialization experience.

“We are proud to announce the successful ramp-up of this high-runner,” explains Bram De Muer, co-founder and CEO, ICsense. “Playing a pivotal role in the end-product, the custom chip was developed exclusively for this client. The design needed to be ultra-low power, due to it being incorporated into a battery-powered system. Our team succeeded in reaching a power consumption level of only a few µA in full measurement mode, which is currently state-of-the-art for this type of sensor.”

The ASIC contains an ISO15693-compliant NFC transceiver. Data from the ultra-high-accuracy sensor readout is transferred wirelessly to mobile devices. The customer was looking to integrate all functionality into an ASIC, in order to lower cost and save area, as the wearable design had very limited space available.

ICsense has taped (i.e. sent to the foundry) over 150 designs since its foundation in 2004. About 80% of these designs are for high-reliability markets such as medical and automotive.  As the most prominent ASIC design house in Europe, ICsense employs close to 100 in-house design engineers at its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium and design center in Ghent.

“We see a steep increase in the number of ASIC requests, also as a result of the global chip shortage and accelerating digitalization and focus on customer experience. Customers are looking for supply certainty and develop their own exclusive ASIC,” De Muer continues. “In contrast to value chain aggregators or design houses, we have all the necessary expertise in-house to support mass production. This includes analog and digital design teams, test and product engineers and full in-house ATE test development capabilities.”