During the last years, RF Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System switches (MEMS) have experienced a tremendous progress in terms of technology development and RF-applications. Such circuits successfully demonstrate nowadays such outstanding properties that they have become the essential building blocks of next generation RF-communication and sensor systems.
The integration of RF-MEMS switches and MMIC (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits) is the next logical and economical step in MMIC development. The project MEMS-4-MMIC aims at the physical merging of two different technologies: innovative RF-MEMS switch technology on one side and proven MMIC technology on the other side thus creating highly integrated multifunctional building blocks for high-value applications such as reconfigurable telecommunication systems, phased arrays for mobile satellite platforms and radar, multimedia WLAN systems, and cognitive radio, for example. Such future agile RF-frontends will be able to more efficiently use the (available) RF-spectrum.
The first generation of RF-MEMS MMIC components has been based on the requirements dictated by next-generation wireless smart applications, automotive radar, satellite terminals, high-speed WLAN and cognitive radio frontends. MEMS-4-MMIC has considered the whole value chain of RF-MEMS MMIC components starting at the materials and suitable foundry processes, the RF-design, packaging of RF-MEMS MMIC (packaging at wafer- and die-level), and last but not least, the testing & reliability which plays a very important role in the whole manufacturing & commercialisation process. For this purpose one of Europe’s leading GaAs MMIC foundries is part of the consortium. Within the project, the RF-MEMS MMIC designs have targeted ohmic switches at frequencies up to approximately 50 GHz for Approval for Market Introduction (AMI).
The project has been concluded successfully and a whole range of RF-MEMS MMIC components has been realised as show below. All components have been packaged successfully at wafer (0-) level.