Metal process improves MEMS RF switches

April 08, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
General Electric's research labs have developed a MEMS RF switch that can be engineered to handle up to 1 kW or scaled to provide up to provide less than 0.3 dB of insertion loss carrying 3 GHz signals.

The development is based on a proprietary metallurgical process that GE is looking to license to development partners, the company said. The metal MEMS process has the ability to meet the requirements for both RF front-end modules and for wireless infrastructure products for next-generation LTE-Advanced mobile networks.

The benefits include high linearity with Ohmic contact RF switches made showing improvements of 15 to 20dB at the third order intercept point (IIP3) compared with silicon-on-insulator switch technology; an insertion loss of less than 0.3db at 3GHz; channel-to-channel isolation better than 35dB at 3GHz. The single-switch element measures 50-micron by 50-micron.

"We have developed a common device fabrication platform that allows us to pack hundreds of microscopic relays together on a single die for industrial power control or alternately, to create high-isolation, low-loss RF switches for next-generation RF communications products," said Chris Keimel, process development engineer at GE Global Research, in a statement.

LTE-Advanced enables theoretical download data rates of 3-Gbits per second, an order of magnitude greater than ordinary LTE and it has already been deployed in parts of Asia.

Wider radio bandwidth, smarter transmission algorithms and multiple-antennas to achieve are used to achieve the higher data rate but rely on superior signal quality, an area where GE Global Research claims its MEMS technology can help>

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