Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) Compatible High Power RF Switches
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-040
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-040 TITLE: Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) Compatible High Power RF Switches

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace


RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Develop MMIC compatible RF high power switches for shipboard phased array radars that improve reliability at a lower cost.

DESCRIPTION: Modern active electronically scanned phased array radars provide outstanding capability but are expensive. To a large degree, this results from the need for power and low noise amplifiers at each antenna element. A promising alternative architecture shares the amplifiers among multiple elements, and thus requires only a phase shifter at each element. This choice requires fast RF switches capable of handling challenging power levels with very low insertion loss.

MMIC compatible RF switches are sought with low insertion loss (< 0.2 dB), low on-state resistance (< 0.1 ohm) and fast switching time (goal of 300 ns). These switches must be capable of handling up to tens of watts of RF power. The input third-order intercept point (IIP3) is also a factor to be considered, and compatibility with standard semiconductor fabrication processes is required in order to realize the goal of reduced system cost.

RF micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) switches (ref. 1, 2, 3) are an emerging technology and may be proposed for this topic if they employ novel materials, cost saving processes, and/or innovative design features which significantly improve their performance, reliability or cost while also meeting the performance criteria specified above. Specifically sought are new switch technologies, such as phase change switches (ref. 4) or other innovative technologies that show promise of providing affordable RF high power switching for radar applications (with the performance criteria specified above). The intended application will be C, S and X Band radars and the intended (benchmark) use of the switches is in phase shifters. However, it should be noted that this technology has many other potential applications in radar as well as in electronic warfare (EW) and microwave communication systems. These applications include reconfigurable RF filters and adaptable antenna feeds. Primarily, though, this innovative technology will enable high performance radar systems at lower acquisition cost with the secondary benefit of lower sustainment and operational cost.

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for an improved MMIC compatible high power RF switch that meets the requirements described above. The company will show the feasibility of their concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established through prototype testing, modeling and simulation, or a combination thereof. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan that addresses technical risk reduction and provides performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for MMIC compatible high power RF switches. Operational performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous switching cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning their technology for Navy use. The company will develop an MMIC compatible high power RF switch according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The technology developed under this topic is expected to find many applications in radar, EW systems and communications. Examples include Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport radars, law enforcement and Coast Guard radars and commercial radar applications (such as navigation radar and collision avoidance radar). Airborne radar will also benefit. This technology may also be adapted for the commercial telecommunications and commercial microwave test equipment industries.

1. Newman, H.S., Ebel, J.L., Judy, D., Maciel, J., "Lifetime Measurements on a High-Reliability RF-MEMS Contact Switch," IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2008.

2. Yuan, X., Peng, Z., Hwang, J. C. M., Forehand, D., Goldsmith, C., "Acceleration of Dielectric Charging in RF MEMS Capacitive Switches," IEEE Transactions on Device and Materials Reliability, Vol. 6, No. 4, 2006.

3. Rebeiz, G., Patel, C., Han, S., Ko, C., Ho, K., "The Search for a Reliable MEMS Switch?", IEEE Microwave Magazine, January/February 2013.

4. Shim, Y., Hummel, G., Rais-Zadeh, M., "RF Switches Using Phase Change Materials," MEMS 2013, Taipei, Taiwan, January 2013.

KEYWORDS: Phase change switches; phased array; phase shifter; RF switches; insertion loss; Micro-electromechanical System (MEMS) switches

DoD Notice:  
Between November 20 and December 19 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting Dec 20, 2013, when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
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