RF MEMS Switches with Novel Materials and Micromachining Techniques for SOC/SOP RF Front Ends

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Wang, Guoan
Papapolymerou, John
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This dissertation deals with the development of RF MEMS switches with novel materials and micromachining techniques for the RF and microwave applications. To enable the integration of RF and microwave components on CMOS grade silicon, finite ground coplanar waveguide transmission line on CMOS grade silicon wafer were first studied using micromachining techniques. In addition, several RF MEMS capacitive switches were developed with novel materials. A novel approach for fabricating low cost capacitive RF MEMS switches using directly photo-definable high dielectric constant metal oxides was developed, these switches exhibited significantly higher isolation and load capacitances as compared to comparable switches fabricated using a simple silicon nitride dielectric. The second RF MEMS switch developed is on a low cost, flexible liquid crystal polymer (LCP) substrate. Its very low water absorption (0.04%), low dielectric loss and multi-layer circuit capability make it very appealing for RF Systems-On-a-Package (SOP). Also, a tunable RF MEMS switch on a sapphire substrate with BST as dielectric material was developed, the BST has a very high dielectric constant (>300) making it very appealing for RF MEMS capacitive switches. The tunable dielectric constant of BST provides a possibility of making linearly tunable MEMS capacitor-switches. For the first time a capacitive tunable RF MEMS switch with a BST dielectric and its characterization and properties up to 40 GHz was presented. Dielectric charging is the main reliability issue for MEMS switch, temperature study of dielectric polarization effect of RF MEMS was investigated in this dissertation. Finally, integration of two reconfigurable RF circuits with RF MEMS switches were discussed, the first one is a reconfigurable dual frequency (14GHz and 35 GHz) antenna with double polarization using RF MEMS switches on a multi-layer LCP substrate; and the second one is a center frequency and bandwidth tunable filter with BST capacitors and RF MEMS switches on sapphire substrate.
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