Microsystem Technologies

, Volume 21, Issue 10, pp 2039–2052 | Cite as

RF-MEMS: an enabling technology for modern wireless systems bearing a market potential still not fully displayed

  • J. Iannacci
Review Paper


Since its first discussions in literature during late ‘90 s, RF-MEMS technology (i.e. Radio Frequency MicroElectroMechanical-Systems) has been showing uncommon potential in the realisation of high performance and widely reconfigurable RF passives for radio and telecommunication systems. Nonetheless, against the most confident forecasts for successful exploitation of RF-MEMS technology in mass-market applications, with the mobile phone segment first in line, already commencing from the earliest years of the 2000s, first design wins for MEMS-based RF passives have started to be announced just recently. This paper tries to depict and interpret the substantial circumstances that made RF-MEMS technology fail repeatedly, for about one decade, market forecasts. With the graphical support of the hype cycle concept, it will be shown that missed success of RF-MEMS was first caused by intrinsic (i.e. technology-related) factors. Subsequently, extrinsic elements linked to market acceptance and needs of such a technology, not fully weighted since the beginning, caused the second wave of disappointment around RF-MEMS. Quite unexpectedly, the context has changed rather significantly in recent years. The smartphones market segment started to generate a factual need for highly reconfigurable and high performance RF passive networks, and this circumstance is increasing the momentum of RF-MEMS technology that was expected about one decade ago. This work frames the current state of RF-MEMS market exploitation, also providing highlights on further expansion in mobile and telecommunication systems. Eventually, a focused state of the art report is developed around recent RF-MEMS research findings driven by requirements imposed by current market applications.


Radio Frequency Inflated Expectation Radio Frequency Signal Capacitive Switch Mobile Handset 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MicroSystems Technology (MST) Research UnitCenter for Materials and Microsystems (CMM), Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK)PovoItaly

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