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RFMD introduces MEMS technology for RF apps

Posted: 23 Nov 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:breakthrough performance; 3G multimode handsets; control signals 

RF Micro Devices, has introduced its proprietary micro-electro-mechanical systems, or MEMS, technology for RF and other applications. RFMD is a pioneer in the development of MEMS technology for low-cost, integrated RF applications ("RF MEMS").

The first RF MEMS devices to be introduced by RFMD will be an RF MEMS transmit/receive switch and an RF MEMS mode−switch for 3G multimode handsets. RFMD's MEMS switch technology will help accelerate 3G deployment by significantly reducing the product footprint and improving efficiency, thereby extending handset talk time. When combined with RFMD's process technologies for front−end solutions (GaAs, SOI and silicon), RFMD's RF MEMS switch technology will set new standards for low−cost, small size, and very high performance front ends.

RFMD's MEMS switches will also be used in the output circuit of power amplifiers (PAs) to create a tunable PA, which the company anticipates will enable a truly adaptive transmitter solution.

Victor Steel, VP of R&D for RFMD, said, "The commercialisation of RFMD's MEMS technology and the construction of our 200mm MEMS R&D fab underscore RFMD's continued commitment to product leadership through cutting-edge innovation. With the commercialisation of our MEMS capabilities, we will extend our ability to deliver highly−integrated RF solutions that anticipate and exceed our customers' evolving RF requirements."

Gabriel M. Rebeiz, University of California at San Diego professor and early pioneer in MEMS development, added, "Existing RF MEMS switch technology is based on small fabrication lots and wafer−to−wafer packaging techniques, which result in high device cost. The RFMD approach, with its high level of integration on silicon addresses this problem head−on and will result in improved yield, higher performance and much lower cost."

RFMD's RF MEMS switches are high-power, ohmic contact MEMS switches that are post−processed above−IC on RF CMOS SOI wafers and are encapsulated in hermetically sealed wafer level packaged (WLP) dielectric domes. All necessary circuitry required for the operation of the RF MEMS switches is integrated into the underlying CMOS, including the generation of the large voltages and control signals required for reliable actuation of power MEMS switches. The RF MEMS switches fully support RFMD's rigorous cellular RF power module requirements, including low insertion loss and high isolation (typ. 0.2dB / 35dB @ 1.9GHz) and high harmonic rejection (typ. >90dBc), while also meeting stringent requirements for reliability and cost of design and production.

In addition to RF MEMS switches, RFMD is also actively pursuing the commercialisation of other MEMS devices, such as RF MEMS filters, RF MEMS resonators (crystal replacement) and MEMS sensors. The Company expects its MEMS technology, coupled with its existing core competencies in high−performance radio frequency systems, will ultimately enable single−chip front ends and software defined radios capable of accommodating any wireless protocol−cellular or non−cellular.

RFMD will construct a 200mm R&D wafer fab to support its continued MEMS development. The MEMS R&D fab will be located with RFMD?s GaN R&D organisation in a new facility in Mooresville, North Carolina.

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