Novel RF MEMS Devices Enabled by Three-Dimensional Micromachining

Abstract: This thesis presents novel radio frequency microelectromechanical (RF MEMS) circuits based on the three-dimensional (3-D) micromachined coplanar transmission lines whose geometry is re-configured by integrated microelectromechanical actuators. Two types of novel RF MEMS devices are proposed. The first is a concept of MEMS capacitors tuneable in multiple discrete and well-defined steps, implemented by in-plane moving of the ground side-walls of a 3-D micromachined coplanar waveguide transmission line. The MEMS actuators are completely embedded in the ground layer of the transmission line, and fabricated using a single-mask silicon-on-insulator (SOI) RF MEMS fabrication process. The resulting device achieves low insertion loss, a very high quality factor, high reliability, high linearity and high self actuation robustness. The second type introduces two novel concepts of area efficient, ultra-wideband, MEMS-reconfigurable coupled line directional couplers, whose coupling is tuned by mechanically changing the geometry of 3-D micromachined coupled transmission lines, utilizing integrated MEMS electrostatic actuators. The coupling is achieved by tuning both the ground and the signal line coupling, obtaining a large tuneable coupling ratio while maintaining an excellent impedance match, along with high isolation and a very high directivity over a very large bandwidth. This thesis also presents for the first time on RF nonlinearity analysis of complex multi-device RF MEMS circuits. Closed-form analytical formulas for the IIP3 of MEMS multi-device circuit concepts are derived. A nonlinearity analysis, based on these formulas and onĀ  measured device parameters, is performed for different circuit concepts and compared to the simulation results of multi-deviceĀ  conlinear electromechanical circuit models. The degradation of the overall circuit nonlinearity with increasing number of device stages is investigated. Design rules are presented so that the mechanical parameters and thus the IIP3 of the individual device stages can be optimized to achieve a highest overall IIP3 for the whole circuit.The thesis further investigates un-patterned ferromagnetic NiFe/AlN multilayer composites used as advanced magnetic core materials for on-chip inductances. The approach used is to increase the thickness of the ferromagnetic material without increasing its conductivity, by using multilayer NiFe and AlN sandwich structure. This suppresses the induced currents very effectively and at the same time increases the ferromagnetic resonance, which is by a factor of 7.1 higher than for homogeneous NiFe layers of same thickness. The so far highest permeability values above 1 GHz for on-chip integrated un-patterned NiFe layers were achieved.

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