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This article presents an introduction and overview of MEMS technology with a focus on RF applications of MEMS in the design of cellular handsets. A novel, integrated, high-Q tunable digital capacitor is discussed to demonstrate how RF-MEMS technology can be utilized to make high frequency components whose RF characteristics can be adjusted during operation, allowing for the first time reconfiguration of radio hardware under software control. It is concluded that as the consumer wireless market continues to grow and evolve, product designers will remain under ever increasing pressure to develop smaller, lighter, thinner products that are more functional, energy-efficient, and intuitive, and to do so faster and at lower cost. Although issues and challenges persist, opportunities abound, and RF-MEMS technology holds the promise of being a key enabler of future generations of more highly converged, cognitive, and flexible consumer wireless products.
Date of Publication: August 2008