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In this paper, shunt capacitive RF microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switches are developed in III-V technology using tantalum nitride (TaN) and tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) for the actuation lines and the dielectric layers, respectively. A compositional, structural, and electrical characterization of the TaN and Ta2O5 films is preliminarily performed, demonstrating that they are valid alternatives to the conventional materials used in III-V technology for RF MEMS switches. Specifically, it is found that the TaN film resistivity can be tuned from 0.01 to 30 Ω · cm by changing the deposition parameters. On the other hand, dielectric Ta2O5 films show a low leakage current density of few nanoamperes per square centimeter for E ~ 1 MV/cm, a high breakdown field of 4 MV/cm, and a high dielectric constant of 32. The realized switches show good actuation voltages, in the range of 15-20 V, an insertion loss better than -0.8 dB up to 30 GHz, and an isolation of ~-40 dB at the resonant frequency, which is, according to bridge length, between 15 and 30 GHz. A comparison between the measured S-parameter values and the results of a circuit simulation is also presented and discussed, providing useful information on the operation of the fabricated switches.
Date of Publication: April 2011