Ultra-fast low actuation voltage RF MEMS switch

Year 2004
Project team George Barbastathis

A more reliable switch

Manufacturers in industries from cell phones to satellites are looking for ways to create next-generation radio frequency products, even as current solid-state components reach their physical limitations for improvement. Radio frequency microelectromechanical systems (RF MEMS) may provide a solution, particularly in the replacement of solid-state switches that have mediocre RF on/off performance. RF MEMS switches have not yet made it to market, however, largely because of technical obstacles, high actuation voltages, integration difficulties, slow actuation speeds, reliability issues, and high packaging costs that result from fundamental limitations in current actuation techniques. This project will create an RF MEMS switch that utilizes a completely new MEMS actuation method. This switch would provide increased reliability, lower actuation voltages, and faster switching speeds. The new design could lead to the first successfully commercialized RF MEMS switch, with application in a wide range of markets, including military radar, satellites, semiconductor test equipment, and consumer wireless.