MicroElectroMechanical (MEM) Millimeter-Wave Control Devices for Affordable Scanning Antennas

Period of Performance: 03/30/1998 - 03/30/2000

$748K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Quinstar Technology, Inc.
24085 Garnier Street
Torrance, CA 90505
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

Many of the next generation communication and radar systems will operate in the millimeter-wave frequency range and use beam steering array antennas. In order to utilized full capabilities of MMIC devices of recent years in such applications, millimeter-wave systems require low cost, high performance control devices capable of switching with low insertion loss and high isolation. This proposed project is aimed at the development of novel millimeter-wave control devices based on the MicroElectroMechanical (MEM) technology. Specifically MEM switches and phase shifters will be developed for millimeter-wave phased array and Rotman lens scanning antenna applications. The MicroElectroMechanical (MEM) devices feature the device structure that inherently provides cutoff frequency that would result in much tower losses and higher isolations as compared with semiconductor devices. This unique feature is much more pronounced at millimeter-waves. The switching action is by voltage applied with no current drawn. Thus, the MEM switches require very little driver power which is desirable for system applications where control devices are used by a large number. Since the MEM fabrication process is compatible with integrated circuit fabrication, the MEM switches can be integrated into MMICs. In addition, the simple physical structure and fabrication process steps of the MEM devices would naturally lead to low production costs. During the Phase I, MEM switches have been designed, fabricated, and tested at millimeter-wave frequencies and the proof of concept was successfully demonstrated. The Phase II addresses full development of the technology and producibility of MEM control devices for millimeter-wave applications. BENEFITS: The new millimeter-wave control device technology will enable the development of affordable millimeter-wave systems such as advanced communication systems and radars with multiple beam steering antennas. It will also open up a variety of commercial applications such as wide band communications, local area networks, and vehicular collision warning sensors.