Richardson, TX, United States

MEMtronics Corporation

www.memtronics.com
Richardson, TX, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 97.86K | Year: 2012

ABSTRACT: The main objective of this project is to design metamaterial-based MEM phase shifters, and to enable their application in phased-array radar and communications systems. A compact, low-loss, low-power-consumption, and non-dispersive Ka-band 4-bit phase shifter is chosen as the demonstration vehicle. To determine the feasibility of the overall project, the objective during Phase I will be to demonstrate a Ka-band 45 degrees unit cell. The proposed design will be based on a proven Ku-band 45 degree unit, which closely integrates metamaterial with MEM switches to achieve unprecedented broadband performance. Additionally, the design will be based on MEM capacitive switches of proven reliability and reproducibility, making the technology transfer low risk but high payoff. The goal is to end up with the mask layout of the Ka-band 45 degrees phase-shifter unit cell six months after Phase I starts. Then, if the Phase II proposal is selected, the unit cell and eventually a full four-bit phase shifter will be fabricated and tested during Phase II. The teaming of MEMtronics Corp., Lehigh Univ. and Innovative Micro Technology, Inc. ensures that the phase shifters developed under this project will be manufacturable and can be readily commercialized. BENEFIT: The development of ultra-low loss phase shifters based on this technology could significantly reduce the cost of phased array antenna systems. A significant reduction in cost will promote their proliferation for a variety of defense and communications applications.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.95K | Year: 2013

ABSTRACT: During the course of the Phase I project, the university partner Lehigh University invented a unique and highly efficient phase shifter concept based on metamaterial design concepts. This novel phase shifter unit cell allows switching between left-handed and right-handed transmission characteristics to create a phase shift with almost 70 degrees shift using only a single MEMS switch. This new phase bit cell exhibits 2.5x more phase shift than the best slow-wave phase shifting architectures, using one-fifth the number of MEMS switches. During the course of the proposed Phase II project, Lehigh will extend this concept to design 4-bit phase shifters at Ka-band and transfer this technology to MEMtronics for fabrication, packaging, and testing using their MEMS capacitive switch process and contract manufacturing partners. This phase shifter concept enables the possibility of 1-2 dB loss phase shifters at Ka-band that occupy approximately 12 mm2. MEMtronics will commercialize this technology to applications where size, weight, power, and cost are critical to mission success. These include defense and commercial applications focused on air- and ground-based satellite communications for UAV and"SatCom on the move"applications. BENEFIT: By taking advantage of combining the differing dispersion characteristics of metamaterials, non-dispersive phase shifters with a constant phase across a wide range of frequencies can be designed. Incorporating RF MEMS technology with these metamaterial designs makes possible low-loss, low DC power consumption phase shifters at Ka-band. This opens a path to exciting new phased-array antenna system architectures requiring fewer expensive transceiver modules, thereby reducing size, weight, and cost over existing phased array systems. This technology will be directly applicable to commercial satellite communications, where it is anticipated that high-speed broadband Internet, digital television, video broadcasting, and government services will be major areas of growth for this industry.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.62K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:This project proposes to take advantage of the best available tuning technologies (MEMS-based tuning varactors) and modern control technology (CMOS electronics) to create reconfigurable filters at microwave frequencies that will have broad application in military systems. These low-loss, rapidly tunable bandpass filters are based on the integration of MEMS-based capacitive tuners and innovative CMOS closed-loop control circuits with state-of-the-art substrate integrated waveguide filter technology.BENEFIT:This reconfigurable filter technology will enable order-of-magnitude reductions in size and weight in communications systems that currently utilize switched filter banks to control frequency or bandwidth. This technology has broad applicability to a wide range of military systems, ranging from unmanned air vehicles to satellites, enabling adaptive frequency management in a compact, low-loss format.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.30K | Year: 2013

There is a clear gap between commercially available UHF tunable filters and the technology needs of current military communication systems. MEMtronics Corporation, teamed with Purdue University, intend to develop and commercialize technology that fills this gap. The intent of this Phase II project is continue the successful demonstrations began in Phase I and bring the technology to a level of maturity that will enable it to thrive in the marketplace. This effort is focused on narrowband, tunable bandpass filters that can tune over large portions of the UHF spectrum (300 MHz 700 MHz) with unparalleled levels of performance (low loss at narrow bandwidths). The program team will also extend the current state of the art in filter technology by developing ultra-narrow band channel selection and channel-dropping technologies which leverage the capabilities of upcoming radio systems. To aid in the commercialization of this technology, the team has engaged with military system integrators to focus technology development to benefit near-term commercialization and maximize market pull.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.92K | Year: 2011

This project will identify and demonstrate characterization, testing, and modeling methodologies that significantly improve accelerated testing of high-power RF MEMS switches and phase shifters. These innovations will lead to at least a 5X test time reduction over current real-time life test methodologies. These innovations will help spur the commercialization of RF MEMS switches and phase shifters, impacting a number of radar and communications systems for the US government.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.52K | Year: 2011

The development of cryogenic microwave components, such as focal plane polarization modulators, first requires an RF MEMS switching technology that operates effectively at cryogenic temperatures. The approach of this project is to explore the performance of capacitive MEMS switching technology at low temperatures. MEMS capacitive switches represent an alternative to ohmic contact switches, where the RF impedance of the device is not dependent on metal-metal contacts. These MEMS switches operate with much lower effective series resistance (generally ~ 0.25 ohms) and do not have the issues associated with dry contact switching. This technology also has the advantage of operating very well at millimeter-wave frequencies and higher, where many of the most demanding performance limitations exist. This technology has seen significant investment through DARPA and the DOD, and is directly applicable to high-performance microwave components needed in several of the upcoming NASA missions.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.25M | Year: 2010

MEMtronics and its teammates propose to develop phase shifters with less than 2 dB loss and better than 2 watts of power handling at X-band microwave frequencies. This program leverages the significant investments already made by the DoD for improving reliability and packaging of RF MEMS technology. This project will combine these improvements with modifications that increase power handling and reduce loss even further. Product development efforts will result in phase shifters which meet the needs of upcoming ballistic missile defense systems, as well as a variety of other military radar and communications needs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.98K | Year: 2014

The proposed effort utilizes CMOS control electronics to"sense and control"the operation of MEMS switches as a solution to overcome the existing limitations of"set and forget"MEMS operation. These efforts build upon several successful prior demonstrations of MEMS-CMOS integration and CMOS control of MEMS switches by MEMtronics and Lehigh. The incorporation of high-speed electronics with MEMS switches enables the improvement of many aspects of MEMS operation - from mitigating dielectric charging to compensating operating voltages over temperature, to achieving very accurate MEMS capacitance values, to allowing analog functionality. However, the benefits of adaptive control go well beyond these"static"improvements that are possible with CMOS control. There are a host of interesting techniques that can be utilized to implement"dynamic"adaptive control of MEMS by CMOS. The speed and functionality of CMOS offers new and exciting possibilities for on-the-fly management of MEMS operation - soft landing control to prevent contact wear, electrostatic damping to prevent bounce, or compensation for high power RF signals that may distort switch electromechanics. Dynamic control of MEMS devices is new territory that enables adaptive control and augmentation of performance to overcome the remaining drawbacks to RF MEMS technology.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.78K | Year: 2012

In today"s dense electromagnetic environment, proper allocation and management of spectrum is an overriding concern for U.S. military forces. The ubiquity of wireless systems places many radiators spectrally or physically near one another, impacting receiver performance through interference or jamming. The dynamic nature of the radio environment prevents precise knowledge of all these interferers, further complicating mitigation. This has highlighted the need for high-performance, frequency-agile filtering in receiver front-ends to maximize system performance by supporting dynamic adjustment of radio operation to mitigate the effects of jamming and co-site interference. This proposed project incorporates the latest design and manufacturing techniques (novel cavity filters, 3-D printing technology, high performance thin-film manufacturing) with the best available tuning technologies (piezoelectric actuators, MEMS-based tunable capacitors/switches) to create reconfigurable filters at UHF frequencies. This project enables the possibility of compact, low-loss, UHF tunable filters which will be of great benefit to next generation military communications systems where adaptive frequency management is required.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.95K | Year: 2014

This project proposes the hybrid integration of the lowest loss MEMS switches (MEMtronics capacitive MEMS switches) and the lowest loss phase shifter configurations. Together, the newer MEMS technology mated with well-established phase shifter technology, offers a"game changing"solution for low-loss, high-power phase shifter components at X-band.

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