Keynote Speaker Fall 2023

Kurt Peterson

Kurt Peterson, Ph.D.

Silicon Valley Band of Angels

Members may view this presentation here.

MEMS: The Greatest Adventure is What Lies Ahead


The first MEMS devices, pressure sensors, were commercialized about 50 years ago.  Since then, a vast array of much more sophisticated sensors and other devices have been demonstrated - many at BSAC - and a large subset of these have been commercialized.  The largest product families, pressure sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones, and oscillators are each produced and sold in huge quantities, billions/year.  The MEMS market has grown from tens of millions of dollars per year to 30 BILLION dollars per year.  In this discussion, we ask the questions, “has MEMS innovation slowed?”  “Has MEMS commercialization slowed?”  “Where are the clues for future MEMS products?”  There is good evidence that MEMS is entering a new high growth phase over the next 10 years which will be even larger than the past 20 years.  New generations of devices are being demonstrated which have the potential for billions of units per year.  New MEMS manufacturing and processing technologies, which could open up vast new areas of application, are in the early stages commercial availability.  Could the next 10 years be the best ever, for MEMS?


Kurt 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 the most frequently referenced work in the field of micromachining and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS).

Since 1982, Dr. Petersen has co-founded six companies in MEMS technology, Transensory Devices Inc. in 1982, NovaSensor in 1985 (now owned by Amphenol), Cepheid in 1996 (acquired by Danaher in 2016), SiTime in 2004 (now listed as SITM on NASDAQ), Profusa in 2008 (still private), and Verreon in 2009 (acquired by Qualcomm).

In 2011, Dr. Petersen joined the Silicon Valley Band of Angels. 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. He was awarded the prestigious IEEE Medal of Honor in 2019 as well as the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal in 2001 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”.