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Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology has the potential of replacing many of the radio frequency (RF) components used in to day's satellite communication systems. In many cases, such RF MEMS components would not only substantially reduce size, weight, and power consumption, but also promise superior performance when compared to that of current technologies. The benefits of MEMS technology be come more pronounced for switch matrices because there is a large number of switching elements and, therefore, any size and mass reduction would have large overall impact. Though there has been some controversy on the reliability and lifetime of RF MEMS switches, significant improvements have been made and RF switches with billions of switching cycles have been demonstrated. This article describes the potential applications of RF MEMS switch matrices in the satellite industry, where mass reduction and performance improvement is crucial.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2011