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Develop Accelerated High Power RF MEMs Switch and Phase Shifter Reliability Test Methodologies


OBJECTIVE: This topic seeks to identify and develop high-power Radio Frequency Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (RF-MEMS) accelerated reliability test methodologies to reduce technology acceptance time for switched phase shifters that utilize capacitive or contact RF MEMS switches. Currently, life testing conducted on RF MEMs switching devices requires significant time and cost due to a lack of physics-based test acceleration methodology. Identification of acceleration protocols, beyond currently conducted real-time life testing approaches, is required to shorten the test time required and accelerate acceptance of these technologies by government programs. The development of an acceptable physics-based model and accelerated test methodology would significantly reduce the cost and time required for system qualification and insertion of high-power RF-MEMS switches and phase shifters for Radar/Electronics Warfare (EW) phased array applications. DESCRIPTION: High power radar and EW modules are required for Electronically Scanned Arrays (ESAs) to provide significant system performance improvements. These modules, from a system perspective, are a major portion of the system cost and they provide thermal and reliability challenges to designers and manufacturers that must be overcome to provide effective ESA solutions. RF MEMS switches and phase shifters have been under development to provide phase control in some ESA architectures. These devices offer the potential of low insertion loss, ultra-linear performance and very low operating power. The qualification and adoption of these technologies by programs requires demonstrated reliability, however current real-time testing is costly because it requires significant time to cycle the RF MEMS switches and phase shifters. R & D efforts are required to identify acceleration mechanisms that allow prediction of device lifetime by means of short-term testing. The goal of this program is to perform the research and development needed to establish RF MEMS device accelerated reliability test methodologies applicable to X-Band (8-12 GHZ) MEMs devices with output power levels of up to 5W peak, 2W average. PHASE I: Identify, model and demonstrate innovative material, design, process and testing methods that lead to accelerated high-power RF MEMs reliability testing. This should include physics-based models, equipment improvements, and test procedure standardization/improvement based on experimental results on capacitive or contact RF MEMS switches that lead to at least a 5X test time reduction over current real-time life test methodologies. PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a prototype lifetime test methodology for high power RF MEMs switches and phase shifters capable of X-band operation at power levels up to 5W peak, and 2W average that has the test time reduction developed in Phase I. The prototype procedures developed should have dual use/commercial application. PHASE III: Deliver a prototype test station to the government after conducting validation testing of the lifetime of RF MEMs devices having the performance identified in this topic. Transition the test methodologies developed in Phase II to support an MDA system insertion. DUAL USE/COMMERCIALIZATION POTENTIAL: RF MEMS switches and phase shifters are being developed for commercial and military applications, these components are enabling higher performance ESA for EW and Radar, and they would find numerous applications in military systems as well as commercial systems, for example, transportation radar systems. REFERENCES: 1. H. S. Newman, J. L. Ebel, D. Judy, and J. Maciel,"Lifetime Measurements on a High-Reliability RF-MEMS Contact Switch,"IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2008. 2. X. Yuan, Z. Peng, J. C. M. Hwang, D. Forehand, and Charles L. Goldsmith,"Acceleration of Dielectric Charging in RF MEMS Capacitive Switches,"IEEE Transactions on Device and Materials Reliability, Vol. 6, No. 4, 2006. 3. J. Teti, and F. Darreff,"MEMS 2-bit Phase-Shifter Failure Mode and Reliability Considerations for Large X-Band Arrays,"IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory and Tech., Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 693-701, 2004.
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