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Richardson, TX, United States

Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.64K | Year: 2008

We propose a novel MEMS-based digital phase shifter targeted for Ka-band operation, but scalable down to X-band and up to W-band. This novel phase shifter will incorporate MEMtronics' state-of-the-art microencapsulated, capacitive MEMS switches to control phase. The envisioned phase shifter behaves much like a switched-line phase shifter with broadband matched impedance, but without sacrificing size normally needed to accommodate multiple signal paths. Many MEMS-based phase shifters have been created with good results utilizing a loaded line approach. While this technique works well for smaller bits, larger bits suffer from narrow bandwidths and a poor impedance match in one or both states. Additionally, cascading multiple bits results in a relatively long multi-bit phase shifter. As insertion loss is dominated by conductor loss, these long multi-bit phase shifters become rather lossy reducing advantages that MEMS-based phase shifters may offer. This proposed project seeks to overcome these limitations by maximize phase shift per unit length, while increasing bandwidth, to arrive at a low-loss Ka-band phase shifter with significant performance and size improvements over currently available technologies.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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