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Sensors 2009, 9(10), 7988-8006;

A Coupled Field Multiphysics Modeling Approach to Investigate RF MEMS Switch Failure Modes under Various Operational Conditions

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta / University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2G8, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 July 2009 / Revised: 15 September 2009 / Accepted: 16 September 2009 / Published: 12 October 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling, Testing and Reliability Issues in MEMS Engineering - 2009)
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In this paper, the reliability of capacitive shunt RF MEMS switches have been investigated using three dimensional (3D) coupled multiphysics finite element (FE) analysis. The coupled field analysis involved three consecutive multiphysics interactions. The first interaction is characterized as a two-way sequential electromagnetic (EM)-thermal field coupling. The second interaction represented a one-way sequential thermal-structural field coupling. The third interaction portrayed a two-way sequential structural-electrostatic field coupling. An automated substructuring algorithm was utilized to reduce the computational cost of the complicated coupled multiphysics FE analysis. The results of the substructured FE model with coupled field analysis is shown to be in good agreement with the outcome of previously published experimental and numerical studies. The current numerical results indicate that the pull-in voltage and the buckling temperature of the RF switch are functions of the microfabrication residual stress state, the switch operational frequency and the surrounding packaging temperature. Furthermore, the current results point out that by introducing proper mechanical approaches such as corrugated switches and through-holes in the switch membrane, it is possible to achieve reliable pull-in voltages, at various operating temperatures. The performed analysis also shows that by controlling the mean and gradient residual stresses, generated during microfabrication, in conjunction with the proposed mechanical approaches, the power handling capability of RF MEMS switches can be increased, at a wide range of operational frequencies. These design features of RF MEMS switches are of particular importance in applications where a high RF power (frequencies above 10 GHz) and large temperature variations are expected, such as in satellites and airplane condition monitoring. View Full-Text
Keywords: RF MEMS switch; substructuring; skin effect; buckling; residual stresses RF MEMS switch; substructuring; skin effect; buckling; residual stresses
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Sadek, K.; Lueke, J.; Moussa, W. A Coupled Field Multiphysics Modeling Approach to Investigate RF MEMS Switch Failure Modes under Various Operational Conditions. Sensors 2009, 9, 7988-8006.

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