Miniaturized UHF, S-, and Ka-band RF MEMS Filters for Small Form Factor, High Performance EVA Radio
Award last edited on: 1/14/2021

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Justin P Black

Company Information

Harmonic Devices Inc (AKA: HDI)

2269 Cedar Street Apartment C
Berkeley, CA 94709
   (510) 292-8016
Location: Single
Congr. District: 13
County: Alameda

Phase I

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In Phase I Harmonic Devices proposes to investigate the feasibility of a low-power, low-volume, lightweight, frequency agile, and fault tolerant EVA radio based on the co-design of the transceiver with high Q contour mode piezoelectric resonators and filters, low-loss switches, and tunable capacitors. The radio will span from VHF to S-band frequencies (or higher) and support voice, data, and video capabilities. HDI's contour mode aluminum nitride (AlN) technology allows the CAD level definition of arrays of filters, resonator, switches, and tunable capacitors, with operating frequencies from 10 MHz to several to several GHz, all on a single silicon chip. The proposed work represents a radio architecture paradigm shift in which arrays of high-Q micromachined elements (resonators, switches, tunable capacitors) are embedded in the transceiver circuit blocks. Conceptually, the library of low-Q circuit elements (resistors, inductors, capacitors) traditionally available to the RFIC designer are supplemented with HDI's high-Q components. In the Phase I study HDI will design and evaluate novel high-Q component-based transceiver circuit blocks (LNA, oscillators/synthesizers, power amplifiers, etc.), optimize the design of its RF micromachined components for embedding in RFICs, and determine the optimum radio architecture to leverage its high-Q micromachined component technology.

Phase II

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In Phase II of this SBIR, Harmonic Devices (HDI) proposes to develop miniaturized MEMS filters at UHF, S-band and Ka-band to address the requirements of NASA's next-generation software defined EVA radio. The filters are a key enabler for this highly reconfigurable, fault tolerant, cell-phone sized EVA radio. For UHF and S-band, HDI will employ its proprietary contour-mode aluminum nitride MEMS piezoelectric resonator technology. Processed on silicon substrates, the resonators have their natural frequency defined by the lateral, in-plane dimensions of the structure. This feature enables the definition of different frequencies directly at the CAD layout level. Thus, the low insertion loss UHF and S-band filters can be monolithically integrated into a single chip. For the Ka-band, HDI will employ coaxial 3D MEMS interdigital filters that exhibit low insertion and ripple in a miniaturized form factor. Several US companies have expressed a keen interest in HDI's technology. In Phase I, HDI successfully proved the feasibility of employing the proposed UHF, S-band, and Ka-band filters in NASA's software defined EVA radio through simulation and microfabrication pilot studies. The filters can be monolithically integrated onto the same silicon substrate, resulting in substantial savings in board space. The objective of Phase II is to build the filter prototypes and deliver them to NASA for testing. The results of the Phase I feasibility study convincingly justify Phase II continuation.