MEMS-based RF switches operate up to 14 GHz

November 09, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Analog Devices has introduced RF switch technology capable of 14 GHz operation, using chip-scale switching elements – MEMS switches – that it is initially aiming at markets such as test & measurement, to replace electromechanical relays. This will, ADI says, enable next-generation instrumentation equipment with increased channel density and extended speed, operating lifetime and reduced power consumption.

The first in a new product series, the ADGM1304 and ADGM1004 RF MEMS switches are presented as 95% smaller, 30 times faster, 10 times more reliable, and use 10 times less power than conventional electromechanical relays. Future products within the MEMS switch series will replace relays in aerospace and defence, healthcare, and communications infrastructure equipment, allowing OEMs in those markets to pass similar size, power and cost savings along to their customers.

Unlike other switch alternatives such as solid-state relays, the ADGM1304 and ADGM1004 MEMS switches have superior precision and RF performance from 0 Hz (DC) to 14 GHz. The MEMS switch contains two dice to maximize operational performance – an electrostatically actuated switch in a hermetically sealed silicon cap, and a low-voltage, low-current driver IC. The switching element has a highly conditioned, extremely reliable metal-to-metal contact that is actuated via an electrostatic force generated by the companion driver IC. The resultant co-packaged solution ensures best-in-class DC precision and RF performance, and makes the switch easy to use.

The highly reliable ADGM1304 and ADGM1004 increase cold-switching lifetime by a factor of 10 compared to electromechanical relays, extending ATE system operating life and reducing costly downtime caused by relay failures. Additionally, the extremely small height of the ADGM1304 and ADGM1004 MEMS switch packages allow designers to surface-mount the devices on both sides of their ATE test boards to boost channel densities at reduced cost and without expanding equipment footprint. An integrated charge pump removes the need for external drivers, further reducing ATE system size, while a multiplexer configuration simplifies the fan-out structure compared to DPDT relay designs.


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