Design and Fabrication of a Reconfigurable MEMS-Based Antenna

  • Miguel Angel Galicia Martinez

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This thesis presents the design and fabrication of a customized in house Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) process based on-chip antenna that is both frequency and polarization reconfigurable. It is designed to work at both 60 GHz and 77 GHz through MEMS switches. This antenna can also work in both horizontal and vertical linear polarizations by utilizing a moveable plate. The design is intended for Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN) and automotive radar applications. Typical on-chip antennas are inefficient and difficult to reconfigure. Therefore, the focus of this work is to develop an efficient on-chip antenna solution, which is reconfigurable in frequency and in polarization. A fractal bowtie antenna is employed for this thesis, which achieves frequency reconfigurability through MEMS switches. The design is simulated in industry standard Electromagnetic (EM) simulator Ansoft HFSS. A novel concept for horizontal to vertical linear polarization agility is introduced which incorporates a moveable polymer plate. For this work, a microprobe is used to move the plate from the horizontal to vertical position. For testing purposes, a novel mechanism has been designed in order to feed the antenna with RF-probes in both horizontal and vertical positions. A simulated gain of approximately 0 dB is achieved at both target frequencies (60 and 77 GHz), in both horizontal and vertical positions. In all the cases mentioned above (both frequencies and positions), the antenna is well matched (< -10 dB) to the 50 Ω system impedance. Similarly, the radiation nulls are successfully shifted by changing the position of the antenna from horizontal to vertical. The complete design and fabrication of the reconfigurable MEMS antenna has been done at KAUST facilities. Some challenges have been encountered during its realization due to the immaturity of the customized MEMS fabrication process. Nonetheless, a first fabrication attempt has highlighted such shortcomings. According to the high gain obtained in a lossy silicon substrate and the compatibility of the custom MEMS process with the state of the art standard CMOS process, it is believed that the design of this antenna can lead to efficient and low cost reconfigurable millimeter-wave System-on-Chip (SoC) solution.
Date of AwardJun 22 2011
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorAtif Shamim (Supervisor)

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