GE MEMS Switch Technology Demonstrates Performance Which Could Meet Demands for Next-Generation True 4G Mobile Devices
3/18/2014 6:00:00 AM
Prototype device testing shows that GE's RF MEMS switch can help enable increased data transfer speeds, enhanced signal quality, longer battery life, and the advanced RF designs required of LTE-Advanced devices.
NISKAYUNA, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The mechanical relay has been re-born at the GE Global Research Center where a group of researchers are advancing MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology to create ultra-small switches that could have an ultra-large impact on system design that will drive mobile devices of the future.
Reinventing the switching component allows us to deliver breakthrough benefits to our systems that drive down the size, weight, power consumption, and cost of our systems while improving overall performance.
These metal switches, which are no bigger than the width of a human hair, can control the flow of electricity to an array of electrical systems from high-power devices that use kilowatts of power, to an ordinary light bulb. Future applications of the technology are far-reaching. Switches are used in everything from hand-held electronics, to industrial equipment to protection devices. What separates GE's MEMS switch from other MEMS technologies is the unique material set developed by GE researchers that allows the switch to operate for billions of cycles under extreme operating conditions, such as elevated temperature, while maintaining extremely low contact resistance.
Our cross-disciplinary expertise in materials, device design, fabrication, packaging, electronics and system integration has allowed us to solve the fundamental challenges of switch miniaturization, said Chris Keimel, Process Development Engineer at GE Global Research. We have developed a common device fabrication platform that allows us to pack hundreds of microscopic relays together on a single die for industrial power control or alternately, to create high-isolation, low-loss RF switches for next-generation RF communications products. We're guiding a transformational change in switch technology and I'm excited to see where it goes next.
LTE-Advanced, also known as True 4G, has already been deployed in parts of Asia, and will soon set the benchmark for mobile communications worldwide. Most notably, it enables data download speeds that could, theoretically, top 3 gigabits/sec compared to 300 Mb/sec on 4G LTE. By utilizing a wider radio bandwidth, smarter transmission algorithms, and multiple-antennas, LTE-Advanced will enable stronger connections and signal quality. To make all of these upgrades possible, hardware must evolve and that's where GE's MEMS switch technology offers a distinct advantage.
As demonstrated in the lab, RF switches made with GE's proprietary metal MEMS process have the ability to meet the demanding requirements for