Quartz Crystal Everywhere: The Advantages of Epson's Crystal Devices

Crystal devices are essential for the modern world

Crystal devices are tiny devices that house a sliver of transparent quartz. They are primarily used to control the operations of the systems into which they are embedded, such as vehicles, smartphones, PCs, digital cameras, and a vast range of other electronic equipment.

Quartz crystal offers outstanding accuracy and stability. Epson's quartz business takes advantage of these properties to develop, manufacture, and sell crystal-based timing devices and sensing devices.

Timing devices use the piezoelectric effect to produce a certain frequency. They are essential in electronic equipment for sending information (signals) at the right time and speed.

The shape of a crystal chip can be changed to produce a desired frequency with excellent accuracy and stability.

Quartz sensing devices, meanwhile, are used to sense quantities such as motion, pressure, and temperature. These devices use quartz crystals to sense movements and changes. These movements and changes are then converted to electrical signals so that they can be used as digital data. Gyroscopic sensors and other highly accurate and stable quartz sensing devices are used, for example, in digital camera-shake correction and vehicle electronic stability control systems. The characteristics of quartz sensing devices make them suitable for a growing variety of applications in a broad range of fields.

Epson advantages: end-to-end manufacturing, QMEMS, and Epson semiconductors

Epson fully controls product quality because it owns the entire manufacturing process for its crystal devices, from growing its own artificial crystals to assembling and testing the finished products.

In addition to controlling the entire manufacturing process, Epson's core QMEMS technology is another major competitive advantage. QMEMS technology is used to process quartz material by applying a photolithographic process used in semiconductor fabrication. Developed and refined over years, QMEMS technology is used to achieve ultra-miniature quartz crystal devices that are nonetheless extremely accurate and stable.

One such device is the ultra-miniature gyroscopic sensor element shown balanced on the tip of a mechanical pencil. QMEMS enables extremely small objects to be processed three-dimensionally so as to accurately and stably produce tiny, original shapes.

Epson is the rare company that designs and manufacturers both crystal devices and the semiconductors that are needed to control the crystal units. By designing and integrating the ideal, tiny semiconductor circuitry for controlling a crystal unit, Epson is able to give its crystal devices an edge in performance and features.

Markets and Epson products

Epson has product families in the following four crystal device markets.

Epson leverages the unique advantages of end-to-end manufacturing, QMEMS fabrication technology, and internally-produced semiconductors to continually produce new products that meet market needs, such as the world's first multi-output SAW oscillators and the industry's first crystal oscillators to use a high-frequency (500 MHz) fundamental crystal to achieve stable communications.