PORTLAND, Ore. — General Electric has crafted a 3 GHz micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) switch that can handle a whopping 5 kilowatts of power -- enabling a new generation of applications. The switch measures just 100 microns square, using a material set that is compatible with GE's existing semiconductor manufacturing lines.
"To manufacture a metal-to-metal contact switch that can handle kilowatts of power is truly a breakthrough in the MEMS industry," said vice president of business development at GE Technology Liscensing, Chris Giovanniello, in a video presentation.
GE's tiny MEMS switch measures just 100 microns square and yet can switch up to 5 kilowatts of power at 3 GHz.
(Source: General Electric)
GE plans to use its MEMS switch to power a variety of in-house technologies, but is also offering it to the communications industry where its exceptional linearity enables what GE claims is "true 4G" applications that run at up to 3 Gbit/s rather that the 300 Mbit/s typical of 4G implementations today. To boot, the new GE MEMS switch has an ultra-low insertion loss of just 10 nanowatts, thereby extending the battery life of otherwise power-hungry 4G smartphones.
GE claims its MEMS switch technology can handle high-power devices using kilowatts in industrial equipment and protection devices all the way down to tens of watts for ordinary light bulbs and sub-watt loads for hand-held devices. GE is keeping all the details about the materials set used close to its vest, but claims its low-contact resistance has tested out with billion-cycle lifetimes even under extreme temperatures.
At radio frequency (RF) switching rates for the emerging LTE-Advanced standard, GE claims its switch will enable smarter transmission algorithms using multiple antennas for wider bandwidth transmissions. GE claims the low ohmic contract resistance of its RF switches give them a 15-to-20 dB advantage over silicon-on-insulator (SOI) switches and at comparable prices. Channel isolation is better than 35 dB at 3 GHz, and individual switches can be as small as 50 microns square, or can be scaled up to meet the high power demands of wireless infrastructure applications. The company also plans to license its MEMS switch technology to development partners for various consumer and industrial applications,
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times