Microelectromechanical Wireless/RF Components
Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) devices provide many advantages over conventional devices because of their unique actuation, miniature and integration features. The device sizes are usually in the range from 10mm to 1mm and the thickness of moveable parts on the chips usually is in the order of submicrons. Therefore, the mass of moveable parts is very small and requires very small force to move. This is appropriate for electromagnetic-wave applications since waves have no mass. The miniature feature of MEMS devices reduces the sizes and weights of the integrated components, which also reduces driving-power consumption. One of the important issues in compact mobile communication tools or radar/sensors is to minimize driving currents and optimize power-consumption efficiencies. MEMS actuations usually only require voltages and consume very little currents. Micromachining techniques allow monolithic batch fabrication using the existing CMOS processes, which can greatly reduce manual labor and fabrication cost. The monolithic fabrication also provides precise positioning for integrating many components, especially 3-dimensional structures, on the same chips for more functionality.
Applications MEMS RF devices have many applications in different broadband/RF/wireless systems. These include RF switches, phase shifters, routing switches, time delay networks, antenna tuners, tuning filters and other passive components at microwaves and millimeterwaves. The broadband systems or subsystems using these devices include phased-array antennas for beam scanning, beam steerers in quasi-optical receivers/transmitters, high-speed front-end switching, monolithic microwave/millimeterwave integrated-circuits (MMICs and RFICs) and high-speed data processing. System applications can apply on high-speed ICs for broadband (OC-48/OC-192) telecommunication networks; broadband mobile communications; high-resolution compact auto-mobile/aircraft radar, with operating frequencies high enough to penetrate fog, clouds or smoke, for commercial and military applications as well as airborne remote-sensing sensors. Main Advantages Using MEMS technology to build RF components greatly benefits from the low-loss characteristics of low-resistance metal contacts and elimination of dielectric losses in planar waveguides. Because of the miniature feature, lots of different components can be integrated on a single chip to achieve more functionality without extra connector losses or impedance mismatch losses. The moveable feature of MEMS devices allows dynamic adjustment of the component values.
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