Sawamura added that the company is also working on a new generation of actuators and a transition from thermal print heads to piezoelectric MEMS print heads but that the timing of such a transition has not been fixed. "It [the technology] could be used but we are just at the beginning. Technology is one thing, but it has to bring value."
Right now, seven years on from the acquisition of Kionix, MEMS make up about 2 percent of Rohm's sales but it is increasing fast. It also remains true that for now those sales are largely dependent on the smartphone market but automotive and industrial design wins will come, he said. Overall Sawamura provided an impression of Rohm of being like many Japanese companies; patient and pains-taking.
But Rohm is prepared to move early and decisively in technologies in which it has faith. As well as acquiring MEMS maker Kionix in 2009 Rohm acquired SiCrystal AG (Nuremberg, Germany) a monocrystal silicon carbide wafer manufacturer again supporting the idea of vertical integration. In fact the company was predominantly a holder of intellectual property and Rohm invested in a fully automated factory. SiCrystal operates as a subsidiary and sells externally as well as supplying wafers internally.
In essence silicon carbide enables higher-speed switching with lower on-resistance than silicon and the result is usually resulting in reduced losses, reduced heating and smaller size and lower weight. Rohm has been a pioneer of SiC development and was the first company to mass produce SiC MOSFETs in 2010.Rohm already supplies Schottky Barrier Diodes