RF-MEMS Switches on a Printed Circuit Board Platform


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present a new class of printed circuit board (PCB)-based, radio frequency micro-electro-mechanical systems (RF-MEMS) switches and to describe the packaging method and evaluate performance.

Design/methodology/approach: Traditional PCB materials and processes were combined with photolithographic high-density interconnect (HDI) and MEMS to form 3D high-performance RF switches.

Findings: A new type of MEMS RF switch has been developed on a PCB platform. Using processes analogous to those used for silicon MEMS, PCB, and HDI technologies were utilized to fabricate these 3D structures. The PCB-based microstructures are "mil-scale" rather than the "micro-scale" of silicon MEMs. A co-fabrication packaging method for the MEMS RF switch was also developed. The PCB-based MEMS switches have demonstrated excellent RF performance and "hot-switching" RF power-handling capability. PCB-based MEMS RF switches have the advantages of low cost and amenability to scale-up for a high degree of integration.

Research limitations/implications: Further development on photo imageable dielectric materials will enable this technology to improve yield and processability.

Originality/value: The paper describes the development of PCB-based MEMS RF switches. These elements will enable new applications and enhance the functionality of PCBs. They are also more amenable to system integration compared with silicon MEMS.


Materials Science and Engineering

Second Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering


United States. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Motorola Inc.


This work is supported under DARPA contract F33615-00-2-1718 and by Motorola Inc.

Keywords and Phrases

3D Structure; Design/Methodology/Approach; Further Development; High-Density Interconnect; Low Costs; Materials And Process; MEMS Switches; Micro Electro Mechanical System; Micro-Scales; New Applications; Packaging Methods; PCB-Based; Processability; Radio Frequencies; RF Performance; RF Switch; RF-MEMS; RF-MEMS Switches; RF-Power; Scale-Up; Silicon MEMS; Switchgear; System Integration; Composite Micromechanics; Dielectric Materials; Electric Switches; Microelectromechanical Devices; Packaging; Printed Circuit Manufacture; Three Dimensional; Printed Circuit Boards; MEMS; Packaging; Printed Circuits

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Article - Journal

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Publication Date

02 Jul 2010