Sandia designs, characterizes and delivers miniaturized, reliable RF MEMS components and systems such as filters, switches, and oscillators that provide differentiating capabilities to Sandia system groups impacting national security and nuclear weapons.
Aluminum Nitride RF MEMS Resonators
Narrow-gap Polysilicon RF MEMS ResonatorsA polysilicon MEMS resonator process has been developed at Sandia for the fabrication of high-Q oscillator references and intermediate frequency (IF) filters. This process can achieve electrode-to-resonator gaps less than 100 nm, which is needed to reduce the impedance of capacitively transduced devices. While high frequency resonators can be implemented in this process, it is best suited for fabricating resonators below 200 MHz because the impedance levels are significantly lower at these frequencies. Advantages of these polysilicon resonators when compared to microfabricated piezoelectric resonators include much higher Q (> 60,000), low drift, tunability, and low vibration sensitivity. These properties make polysilicon µresonators ideal for implementing miniature oscillators and IF filter banks for RF MEMS applications.
RF MEMS ReliabilityThrough measurement, characterization and analysis, we provide customer feedback to improve operation, performance and reliability of MEMS components, specifically RF switches. We have testing capabilities at the DARPA standard for MEMS switches (RFMIP) of 10 GHz. We have conducted environmentally controlled studies of switch performance and lifetimes at temperatures ranging from -15C to 75C, including cycling. Through failure analysis, we have worked with our customers to enhance understanding of operation, mechanically and electrically. We have performed tests to understand contamination issues that have caused early failures. We are investigating functionality and performance of RF sensor applications to monitor corrosion and to predict critical component failures. By utilizing knowledge of MEMS and by providing unique measurement and characterization capabilities, we can be an integral part of any MEMS project.
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