MEMS Tree of Woe


Darpa on the MEMS Tree of Woe

Click here to go to our slightly less sarcastic page on MEMS technology

Click here to go to our main page on switches

Two RF MEMS guys and a real engineer are on top of Mount Kilamanjaro. The first MEMS guy looks down, yells, "this is for my people", and jumps. The real engineer yells, "this is for my people" and pushes the other MEMS guy off….

MEMS stands for "might evenually make something"...

MEMS actually stands for micro-electro-mechanical systems. Two broad categories of MEMS microwave switches are contacting and non-contacting. In the case of non-contacting, a capacitive contact establishes the on position.

To put it in an historical context, this piece was originally written in 2004. At the IMS 2012 conference, a program manager from Darpa announced that they would spend no more money on MEMS.

The Riddle of MEMS

"Conan, what switch technology is...

slower than PIN diodes,

more expensive than PIN diodes,

has less isolation than PIN diodes,

has less power handling than PIN diodes,

has a temperature range of approximately +/- 1 degrees Celsius,

gets stuck ON when you least expect it,

needs up to a 70 volt DC pull-down voltage,

costs only a dime but requires a fifty dollar package because it can't be environmentally coated yet can't work if it gets a little dirty,

and can kill your career?"

That's right, the answer can only be MEMS. Fabricated using "mysterio-lithography", the subject of MEMS used to take up entire days at the yearly IMS symposium, now it seems but a footnote to any microwave conference. Once the promised land for ultra-low-loss phase shifters for cheap antenna arrays (just Google on MEMS phase shifters and you will see many papers written between 2000-2002), MEMS are still an emerging technology after many years in the sandbox. Sure, you can buy a 6 GHz MEMS switch from at least two vendors. But you can buy a better switch from 100 vendors in alternative technologies, so don't end up on the MEMS Tree of Woe! MEMS vendors include no one that is currently paying us, so we won't mention any of them!

Do you disagree with our MEMS page? Put your money where your mouth is and sponsor this page, and we'll let you spin the MEMS story any way you want!



Author : Unknown Editor