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RFMEMS

RFMEMS

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INTRODUCTION: RF MEMS FOR
MICROWAVE APPLICATIONS
Gabriel M. Rebeiz and Guan-Leng Tan
1.1 THE BEGINNING OF RF MEMS

Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) have been developed since the 1970s for pressure and temperature sensors, accelerometers, gas chromatographs, and other sensor devices. MEMS switches for low-frequency applications have also been demonstrated in the early 1980s but remained a laboratory curiosity for a long time. They are essentially miniature devices that use a mechanical move- ment to achieve a short circuit or an open circuit in a transmission line. But in 1990\u20131991, under the support of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Dr. Larry Larson at the Hughes Research Labs in Malibu, California, developed the \ufb01rst MEMS switch (and varactor) that was speci\ufb01- cally designed for microwave applications [1]. However, and as usual with any leap in technology, it was far from mature and had poor yield and virtually no reliability. Still, it demonstrated excellent performance up to 50 GHz, far better than anything that could be achieved with GaAs devices.

The initial results of Larson were so outstanding that they stirred the interest of several groups in the U.S. government; and by 1995, Rockwell Science Center and Texas Instruments both had developed an outstanding RF MEMS switch. The Rockwell switch was a metal-to-metal contact type, suitable for DC-60 GHz applications, while the Texas Instruments switch was a capacitive contact switch, suitable for 10\u2013120 GHz applications. The rest is history; by 1998, the University of Michigan, The University of California, Berkeley, Northeastern University, MIT Lincoln Labs, Columbia University, Analog Devices, Northrup Grumman, and several other companies were actively pur- suing RF MEMS devices. By 2001, there were more than 30 companies work-

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RF MEMS: Theory, Design, and Technology.
Gabriel M. Rebeiz
Copyright\ue0002003 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN: 0-471-20169-3
ing in this area, including the giants of consumer electronics, such as Motorola,
Analog Devices, Samsung, Omron, NEC, and ST-Microelectronics.

RF MEMS has seen an amazing growth in the past 10 years due to its im- mense commercial and defense potential. The reason is that while there were tremendous advances in GaAs HEMT devices (high-electron mobility transis- tor) and in silicon CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) tran- sistors, there was barely an advance in semiconductor switching diodes from 1985 to 2000. In 1980, the cuto\u00a4 frequency of silicon CMOS transistors was around 500 MHz and is currently around 100 GHz. Also in 1980, the cuto\u00a4 frequency of GaAs HEMT devices was 10\u201320 GHz and is now above 800 GHz. However, the cuto\u00a4 frequency of GaAs or InP p-i-n diodes improved from around 500 GHz in 1985 to only 2000 GHz in 2001. Clearly, a radical new technology was needed to push the cuto\u00a4 frequency of switching devices to 40,000 GHz for low-loss applications, and this was achieved with RF MEMS devices.

A survey of RF MEMS research leads to four distinct areas (Fig. 1.1):
.RF MEMS switches, varactors, and inductorsthat have been demonstrated

from DC-120 GHz and are now a relatively mature technology. Except for the micromachined inductors, MEMS switches and varactors move several micrometers when actuated.

.Micromachined transmission lines, high-Q resonators, \ufb01lters, and antennas

that are suitable for 12\u2013200 GHz. They are generally integrated on thin- dielectric membranes or use bulk micromachining of silicon, but are static and do not move [2].

.FBAR (thin \ufb01lm bulk acoustic resonators) and \ufb01ltersthat use acoustic

vibrations in thin \ufb01lms and that have demonstrated excellent performance up to 3 GHz with very highQ (>2000). Recently, FBAR technology re- sulted in miniature low-loss \ufb01lters for wireless applications [3].

.RF micromechanical resonators and \ufb01ltersthat use the mechanical vibra-

tions of extremely small beams to achieve high-Q resonance at 0.01\u2013200 MHz in vacuum. In this case, the mechanical movements are of the order of tens of angstroms. Very-high-Q resonators (>8000) have been fabri- cated using this technology up to 200 MHz, but two-pole \ufb01lters have only been demonstrated up to 10 MHz. This technology still needs a lot of work before it is ready for commercial applications in miniature 0.1\u2013 3 GHz \ufb01lters. Still, it may be an excellent solution for reference clock circuits [4].

This book concentrates solely on RF MEMS switches, varactors, and in- ductors and does not cover any of the remaining topics in RF MEMS. This allows us to cover deeply all the areas associated with these devices, starting by mechanical and electrical modeling, to fabrication, reliability, and packaging, and concluding by their applications in high-isolation switch circuits, low-loss phase shifters, and tunable antennas, \ufb01lters, and networks.

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1 INTRODUCTION: RF MEMS FOR MICROWAVE APPLICATIONS
1.2 RF MEMS CONFIGURATIONS

There are two distinct parts to an RF MEMS switch or varactor: the actuation (mechanical) section and the electrical section (see Table 1.1). The forces re- quired for the mechanical movement can be obtained using electrostatic, mag- netostatic, piezoelectric, or thermal designs. The switches can also move verti- cally or laterally, depending on their layout. To date, electrostatic-type thermal switches and magnetostatic switches have been demonstrated at 0.1\u2013100 GHz with high reliability (100 million to 60 billion cycles) and wafer-scale manu- facturing techniques. As for the electrical part, a MEMS switch can be placed in either series or shunt con\ufb01gurations and can be a metal-to-metal contact or a capacitive contact switch. This means that one can build at least 32 (2\u00c2 2\u00c2 2\u00c2 4) di\u00a4erent type of MEMS switches using di\u00a4erent actuation mechanisms, contact, and circuit implementations.

Electrostatic actuation is the most prevalent technique in use today due to its
virtually zero power consumption, small electrode size, thin layers used, rela-
Figure 1.1.(a) Agilent FBAR [3], (b) University of Michigan micromachined membrane
\ufb01lter [2], (c) SEM of Radant MEMS switch [5], and (d) a two-pole 7-MHz \ufb01lter based
on micromechanical resonators [4].
1.2 RF MEMS CONFIGURATIONS
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