MEMS switch technology a commercial reality
Analog Devices has introduced a breakthrough in switch technology that provides a long-sought replacement for electromechanical relay designs first adopted by the electronics industry more than 100 years ago. ADI’s new RF MEMS switch technology is enabling faster, smaller, lower power, more reliable instrumentation equipment by resolving multiple performance limitations commonly attributed to relays, whose origins date to the earliest days of the electric telegraph. With the commercial release of products enabled by this technology, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can significantly improve the accuracy and versatility of automatic test equipment (ATE) and other instrumentation tools to help their customers reduce testing costs, power and time to market. Future products within the MEMS switch series will replace relays in aerospace and defence, healthcare, and communications infrastructure equipment, allowing OEMs in those markets to pass similar size, power and cost savings along to their customers.
The first in a new product series, ADGM1304 and ADGM1004 RF MEMS switches are 95 percent smaller, 30 times faster, 10 times more reliable, and use 10 times less power than conventional electromechanical relays.
Unlike other switch alternatives such as solid-state relays, the switches have superior precision and RF performance from 0Hz (DC) to 14GHz. Their MEMS switch solution contains two die to maximize operational performance – an electrostatically actuated switch in a hermetically sealed silicon cap, and a low-voltage, low-current driver IC. The switching element has a highly conditioned, extremely reliable metal-to-metal contact that is actuated via an electrostatic force generated by the companion driver IC. The resultant co-packaged solution ensures best-in-class DC precision and RF performance, and makes the switch extremely easy to use.
The highly reliable ADGM1304 and ADGM1004 increase cold-switching lifetime by a factor of 10 compared to electromechanical relays, extending ATE system operating life and reducing costly downtime caused by relay failures. Additionally, the extremely small height of the switch packages allow designers to surface-mount the devices on both sides of their ATE test boards to boost channel densities at reduced cost and without expanding equipment footprint. An integrated charge pump removes the need for external drivers, further reducing ATE system size, while a multiplexer configuration simplifies the fan-out structure compared to DPDT relay designs.