Design, Analysis And Characterization Of Torsional MEMS Varactor
Varactors form an important part of many communication circuits. They are utilized in oscillators, tunable matching networks, tunable filters and phase-shifters. This thesis deals with the design, analysis, characterization and applications of a novel MEMS varactor. Lower actuation voltage and higher dynamic range are the two important issues widely addressed in the study of MEMS varactors. The pull-in instability, due to which only 33% of the gap between plates could be covered smoothly, greatly reduces useful dynamic range of MEMS varactors. We propose a torsional MEMS varactor that exploits “displacement amplification” whereby pull-in is overcome and wide dynamic range is achieved. The torsion beam in the device undergoes torsion as well as bending. Behavior of the device has been analyzed through torque and force balance. Based on the torque balance and the force balance expressions, theoretical limits of torsion angle and bending for stable operation have been derived. Torsional MEMS varactors and its variants are fabricated through a commercial fabrication process (polyMUMPS) and extensive characterization has been carried out. Capacitance-voltage characteristics show a maximum dynamic range of 1:16 with parasitic capacitance subtracted out from the capacitance values. A bidirectional torsional varactor, in which the top AC plate moves not only towards bottom plate but also away from bottom plate, is also tested. The bottom AC plate is isolated from low resistivity substrate with a thin nitride layer. This gives rise to large parasitic capacitances at higher frequencies. So to avoid this, a varactor with both AC plates suspended in air is designed and fabricated. A dynamic range of 1:8 including parasitic capacitances has been achieved. Self-actuation is studied on fabricated structures and a torsional varactor that overcomes self-actuation has been proposed. Hysteresis behavior of the torsional varactor is analyzed for different AC signals across the varactor plates. Effects of residual stress on C-V characteristics are studied and advantages and disadvantages of residual stress on device performance are discussed. The torsional varactors have been cycled between Cmax and Cmin for 36 hours continuously without any failure. High-frequency characteristics of torsional varactors are analyzed through measurements on one-port and two port configurations. Measurements are done on polyMUMPS devices to study the capacitance variation with voltage, quality factor (Q) and capacitance variation with frequency. Effects of substrate are de-embedded from the device and characteristics of device are studied. An analog phase shifter based on torsional varactor proposed and analyzed through HFSS simulations. Very high tuning range can be achieved with a LC-VCO based on torsional varactors. A LC VCO with the torsional varactor as a capacitor in LC tank is designed. The torsional varactor and IC are fabricated separately and are integrated through wire bonding. Bond-wires are used as inductors.