JMM 2007 Abstract

Modeling, Simulation, and Measurement of the Dynamic Performance of an Ohmic Contact, Electrostatically Actuated RF MEMS Switch

Z. J. Guo, N. E. McGruer, and G. G. Adams


In this paper, we present a 3-D nonlinear dynamic model, which describes the transient mechanical analysis of an ohmic contact RF MEMS switch, using finite element analysis in combination with the finite difference method. The model includes the real switch geometry, the electrostatic actuation, the two-dimensional non-uniform squeeze-film damping effect, the adherence force, and a nonlinear spring to model the interaction between the contact tip and the drain. The ambient gas in the package is assumed to act as an ideal and isothermal fluid which is modeled using the Reynolds squeeze-film equation which includes compressibility and slip-flow. A nonlinear contact model has been used for modeling contact between the microswitch tip and the drain electrode during loading. The Johnson-Kendall-Roberts (JKR) contact model is utilized to calculate the adherence force during unloading. The developed model has been used to simulate the overall dynamic behavior of the MEMS switches including the switching speed, impact force, and contact bounce as influenced by actuation voltage, damping, materials properties, and geometry. Meanwhile, based on a simple undamped spring-mass system, a dual voltage-pulse actuation scheme, consisting of actuation voltage (Va), actuation time (ta), holding voltage (Vh), and turn-on time (ton), has been developed to improve the dynamic response of the microswitch. It is shown that the bouncing of the switch after initial contact can be eliminated and the impact force during contact can be minimized while maintaining a fast close time by using this open-loop control approach. It is also found that the dynamics of the switch are sensitive to the variations of the shape of the dual pulse scheme. This result suggests that this method may not be as effective as expected if the switch parameters such as threshold voltage, fundamental frequencies, etc. deviate too much from the design parameters. However, it is shown that the dynamic performance may be improved by increasing the damping force. The simulation results obtained from this dynamic model are confirmed by experimental measurements of the RF MEMS switch which were developed at Northeastern University. It is anticipated that the simulation method can serve as a design tool for dynamic optimization of the microswitch. In addition, the approach of tailoring actuation voltage and the utilization of squeeze-film damping may provide further improvements in the operation of RF MEMS switches.

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