IEDM observations: Getting back to the mechanical in MEMS

(December 17, 2010) — Techcet’s Michael A. Fury reports in-depth from sessions at IEDM 2010, held earlier this month in San Francisco, looking at paper 18.3 on a reverse trend from electronic switching back to mechanical switching in the form of MEMS devices. 18.3, "Prospects for MEM Logic Switch Technology (Invited)," was presented by T.-J. King Liu, J. Jeon, R. Nathanael, H. Kam, V. Pott*, E. Alon, University of California, Berkeley, *Institute of Microelectronics.

18.3: Device leakage and RF channel switching are among the problems driving a reverse trend from electronic switching back to mechanical switching in the form of MEMS devices, as presented in an invited talk by Tsu-Jae King Liu of UC Berkeley. A MEMS air gap of 1nm can provide IOn/IOff ~ 1010. Planar plates are used as actuating elements rather than linear mechanical levers; a see-saw configuration guarantees that complementary logic functions can be satisfied. Devices have been shown to endure 1015 cycles, satisfying most wireless applications with a 10-year lifetime. MEMS logic functions can be fabricated with 2×-4× fewer devices than the corresponding CMOS functions.


(a) 3D schematic of the see-saw relay structure and definition of design parameters. (b) Schematic cross-sections illustrating complementary operation. (c) SEM views of a fabricated see-saw relay.

Michael A. Fury, Ph.D., reports on a range of talks at IEDM 2010:

He is senior technology analyst at Techcet Group, LLC, P.O. Box 29, Del Mar, CA 92014;


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