RF-MEMS switch design optimization for long-term reliability
This contribution presents an optimization strategy for the mechanical and geometrical characteristics of clamped–clamped dielectric-less RF-MEMS switches in order to enhance their reliability performances both in terms of switch properties control and long-term actuation behavior. The modifications mainly affect the switch membrane, which is made more robust, and the stopping pillar dimensions, while the switch dimensions are practically unaffected. In the case of the proposed ohmic switch, also the mobile contact region was redesigned in order to increase the contact force. Experimental measurements have demonstrated that the optimized version of the capacitive switch investigated shows an improved resistance to high bias voltages (up to 90 V), while the optimized ohmic switch shows a lower, more stable and more reproducible contact resistance. Long-term actuation measurements are analyzed in detail, proposing a model to evaluate the switch lifetime, which was found of the order of few years in the more conservative estimate in the case of capacitive switches. The lifetime estimates are less precise in the case of ohmic switches, mainly because the contact instability sums up with the charging contribution. In spite of the improved switch general properties, lifetime is however not increased with optimization. The most likely explanation is that the optimization strategy was aimed at reducing charge injection and charge non-uniformity, but other effects can be important in lifetime determination.
KeywordsRF-switch Switch design Reliability Long-term measurements
This work has been partially supported by ESA/ESTEC within the contract ESA ITT AO/1-5288/06/NL/GLC “High Reliability MEMS Redundancy Switch”. The authors are also grateful to FBK-MTLab for technical help during switch fabrication.
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