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Europe launches ferroelectrics research for tunable components

Posted: 21 Dec 2005     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Philips Electronics  Ericsson  tunable resonator  microwave  ferroelectric material 

Philips Electronics and Ericsson are amongst the partners in a three-year European Commission project intended to develop tunable resonators and other devices for microwave applications using nano-structured ferroelectric materials.

The project is called Nanostar (Nano-Structured Ferrolectric Films for Tuneable Acoustic Resonators and Devices) and also includes Chalmers University of Technology of Sweden, Temex of France, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Electrotechnical University of Russia and started on May 15, 2005. The project is being supported by European Commission under the sixth framework programme (FP6) of collaborative research.

However, the project's website makes no mention of how large a financial budget the project has been assigned and what level of support it expects to receive from the European Commission. Under European Commission rules commercial companies can get up to 50 per cent support while academic institutions can receive 75 per cent support.

Barium and strontium titanate are being considered because they are characterized by a high dielectric permittivity that is electric field dependent, the website said. This would allow the development of voltage-controlled capacitors (varactors) and other variable components for microwave applications.

The same materials have been used for decades in the development of non-volatile memory devices with mixed success. Microwave devices based on these films offer the possibility of a substantial reduction of cost, sizes and power consumption for use in portable equipment such as mobile phones and laptops. Such devices could also be useful in adaptable and reconfigurable systems such as large phased arrays and tuneable meta materials.

It is expected that by nanostructuring these ferroelectric films new dielectric properties physical effects may be discovered. The project also expects to improve the properties of ferroelectric films and devices based on them in terms of temperature dependence, dielectric hysteresis, losses, noise and parameter drift along with increased long-term stability and tenability.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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