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RF-MEMS for future mobile applications: experimental verification of a reconfigurable 8-bit power attenuator up to 110 GHz

: Iannacci, J.; Tschoban, C.


Journal of micromechanics and microengineering 27 (2017), Art. 044003, 11 S.
ISSN: 0960-1317
ISSN: 1361-6439
Fraunhofer IZM ()

RF-MEMS technology is proposed as a key enabling solution for realising the high-performance and highly reconfigurable passive components that future communication standards will demand. In this work, we present, test and discuss a novel design concept for an 8-bit reconfigurable power attenuator, manufactured using the RF-MEMS technology available at the CMM-FBK, in Italy. The device features electrostatically controlled MEMS ohmic switches in order to select/deselect the resistive loads (both in series and shunt configuration) that attenuate the RF signal, and comprises eight cascaded stages (i.e. 8-bit), thus implementing 256 different network configurations. The fabricated samples are measured (S-parameters) from 10 MHz to 110 GHz in a wide range of different configurations, and modelled/simulated with Ansys HFSS. The device exhibits attenuation levels (S21) in the range from  −10 dB to  −60 dB, up to 110 GHz. In particular, S21 shows flatness from 15 dB down to 3–5 dB and from 10 MHz to 50 GHz, as well as fewer linear traces up to 110 GHz. A comprehensive discussion is developed regarding the voltage standing wave ratio, which is employed as a quality indicator for the attenuation levels. The margins of improvement at design level which are needed to overcome the limitations of the presented RF-MEMS device are also discussed.