Reconfigurable Impedance Matching Networks Based on RF-MEMS and CMOS-MEMS Technologies
Fouladi Azarnaminy, Siamak
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Reconfigurable impedance matching networks are an integral part of multiband radio-frequency (RF) transceivers. They are used to compensate for the input/output impedance variations between the different blocks caused by switching the frequency band of operation or by adjusting the output power level. Various tuning techniques have been developed to construct tunable impedance matching networks employing solid-state p-i-n diodes and varactors. At millimeter-wave frequencies, the increased loss due to the low quality factor of the solid-state devices becomes an important issue. Another drawback of the solid-state tuning elements is the increased nonlinearity and noise at higher RF power levels. The objective of the research described in this thesis is to investigate the feasibility of using RF microelectromechanical systems (RF-MEMS) technology to develop reconfigurable impedance matching networks. Different types of tunable impedance matching networks with improved impedance tuning range, power handling capability, and lower insertion loss have been developed. Another objective is to investigate the realization of a fully integrated one-chip solution by integrating MEMS devices in standard processes used for RF integrated circuits (RFICs). A new CMOS-MEMS post-processing technique has been developed that allows the integration of tunable RF MEMS devices with vertical actuation within a CMOS chip. Various types of CMOS-MEMS components used as tuning elements in reconfigurable RF transceivers have been developed. These include tunable parallel-plate capacitors that outperform the available CMOS solid-state varactors in terms of quality factor and linearity. A tunable microwave band-pass filter has been demonstrated by employing the proposed RF MEMS tunable capacitors. For the first time, CMOS-MEMS capacitive type switches for microwave and millimeter-wave applications have been developed using TSMC 0.35-µm CMOS process employing the proposed CMOS-MEMS integration technique. The switch demonstrates an excellent RF performance from 10-20 GHz. Novel MEMS-based reconfigurable impedance matching networks integrated in standard CMOS technologies are also presented. An 8-bit reconfigurable impedance matching network based on the distributed MEMS transmission line (DMTL) concept operating at 13-24 GHz is presented. The network is implemented using standard 0.35-µm CMOS technology and employs a novel suspended slow-wave structure on a silicon substrate. To our knowledge, this is the first implementation of a DMTL tunable MEMS impedance matching network using a standard CMOS technology. A reconfigurable amplifier chip for WLAN applications operating at 5.2 GHz is also designed and implemented. The amplifier achieves maximum power gain under variable load and source impedance conditions by using the integrated RF-MEMS impedance matching networks. This is the first single-chip implementation of a reconfigurable amplifier using high-Q MEMS impedance matching networks. The monolithic CMOS implementation of the proposed RF MEMS impedance matching networks enables the development of future low-cost single-chip RF multiband transceivers with improved performance and functionality.