Nanotechnology-Enhanced Lubricants for RF MEMS Switches
Final rept. 23 Oct 2008-31 Mar 2011
XCOM WIRELESS INC SIGNAL HILL CA
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This program was to develop a nanoparticle lubricant NPL technology capable of improving noble metal Ohmic contact RF MEMS switching circuit power handling and lifetime ratings to meet tactical radio requirements. A candidate NPL was identified early in the program, with a manufacturing process developed by the Univ. of Dayton Research Institute. A deposition process was developed for compatibility with a production MEMS assembly line. Noble-alloy MEMS relays were tested for hot-switch and cold-switch lifetime at 5 mW and 2 W of continuous wave RF power at 50 Ohms. The relays without NPL performed as expected, within the predicted control performance already characterized for the components. The relays with NPL showed improved lifetime, from approximately 2x for cold-switched conditions, up to nearly 10x for high power hot-switched conditions. While this improvement was less than the 100x demonstrated in initial laboratory tests, the 10x improvement was a critical leap forward for MEMS technology. The engineering sacrifice was on ultra-low-load repeatability, which was not as good with the NPL material, but this specification does not have a strict requirement for tactical radio applications. Finally, a demonstration amplifier validated the tuning circuit concept with 1-2 dB of gain improvement.
- Electrical and Electronic Equipment
- Lubricants and Hydraulic Fluids