RF MEMS advantages over SOI

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  • Author: Igor Lalicevic, RF Director

This application note outlines the benefits of RF MEMS switching technology over existing solid state switching solutions. The MEMS technology benefits are observed from switch figure of merit (FOM) perspective and through different aspects of mobile phone performance improvements that MEMS technology is capable of providing.

Special attention is placed on the next generation of RF switching requirements for the higher end of the LTE-A performance scale and a particular emphasis on the need for high performance, high quality and highly reliable RF switches where the advantages of RF MEMS over SOI are clearly visible.

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology is not new for the mobile phone. In fact, major OEMs & ODMs have become dominant buyers of MEMS products as mobile phones and tablets came to be the main drivers of MEMS market growth. MEMS based microphones, accelerometers, gyroscopes and geomagnetic sensors are well recognized as key building blocks of a modern mobile phone architecture. Now, LTE technology with its ever increasing number of bands, especially at higher frequencies, and its need for low
loss, high isolation and very linear RF components is setting the stage for the next round of MEMS technology, RF MEMS.

Extensive work has already been performed on RF MEMS solutions and it has been demonstrated that you can get a better antenna, filter and power amplifier by using RF MEMS. Along with applications such as tunable antennas and filters, RF MEMS are deemed to be an ideal choice to implement high performance RF switching.