Radio frequency electronic functions based on RF MEMS Technology (Radio Frequency Micro Electro Mechanical Systems)

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Technology abstract

Created in 2013, AIRMEMS designs, fabricates and commercializes a breakthrough technology called RF MEMS switches for telecommunication systems makers. It allows them to decrease the size, reduce the power consumption and increase the performances of their Radio-Frequency electronic devices.

Technology Description

Today’s electronic telecommunication systems are presenting more and more functionalities which consequently make the electronics architectures bulky, more complex and more energy consuming. For example, cellphones permit to watch TV, surf on internet, exchange data via Bluetooth, find your way thanks to GPS, pay your daily shopping and will certainly be able to open the front door of your house. Despite this complexity of the electronic architecture, these devices need to be small enough to fit in your pocket and they have to consume very small amount of energy in order to guarantee an optimal battery life. This need is also present for Defense applications: the tactical radios have to do a lot of things but need to be small enough to fit in the soldier's backpack and have a reasonable battery life to ensure connection on the battlefield. In the Space domain also, the telecommunication satellites have to be multifunctional in a small volume to reduce the payload and costs.

Therefore, by proposing RF MEMS switches and circuits including this breakthrough technology, AirMems allows engineers to realize RF systems that are consuming less energy and which are either more performing or less bulky.

RF MEMS is the acronym of Radio Frequency MicroElectromechanical Systems. This switch, adapted to high frequency electronics,  is presented as a mechanical membrane of several hundred micrometers long suspended over several microns from the substrate. When non-actuated, it prevents any electrical connection between the input and the output and presents a galvanic isolation (upstate). When applying a  voltage on the actuation electrode, the metal  beam is attracted and comes in contact with the RF output creating an ideal electric connection with the input (downstate).

RF MEMS is a breakthrough technology since it provides :

  • Very good isolation and very low losses over a 40 GHz wide band and more. Thanks to the galvanic isolation in the upstate and the ideal electrical contact in the downstate, RF MEMS technology can reach extremely good performances over a wide frequency band compared to semi-conductors realizing the same function. This advantage allows engineers to rethink electronic architectures and upgrade performance or reduce the size of their devices.

 

  • No power consumption. Thanks to the electrostatic actuation, the chip  uses less than a few nanowatt of power consumption while moving and 0 Watt when static. It is a real advantage over current solutions to reduce power consumption on portable devices in order to increase battery life or decrease battery volume.

 

  • Excellent linearity. Thanks to the mechanical properties, multi-tone signals can be applied to the device over a wide band without any distortion. Third order Interception Point (IP3)  is typically better than 65 dBm, outcompeting todays state of the art semiconductor performance.

The AirMems difference is based on 11 years’ experience in RF MEMS fabrication from XLIM labratory and several patents including one from the University of Limoges, which improves the reliability of its components and allows their introduction to the market.

Innovations & Advantages

AirMems' proposition is unique because it has the capability to provide RF MEMS technology to its customers with a reliability level in accordance with the market need. Its skills are mainly based on:

- a 11 Years’ experience in RF MEMS fabrication from XLIM laboratory

- a patented technology

 

Indeed, the tests made during the proof of concept stage have demonstrated a device able to be activated more than 32 Billion times without failure (5.3-D). These performances are higher than specifications given by the market.

By bringing RF MEMS technology to the market, AirMems will allow engineers to increase functionalities and reduce power consumption in their devices at a level non reachable by conventional electronic chips for the same size.

Current and Potential Domains of Application

  • Mobile phone
  • Defense
  • Space
  • Automated test equipments
  • Automotive
  • Internet of Things
  • Medical electronic devices