Investigation on LIGA-MEMS and on-chip CMOS capacitors for a VCO application
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Modern communication systems require high performance radio frequency (RF) and microwave circuits and devices. This is becoming increasingly challenging to realize in the content of cost/size constraints. Integrated circuits (ICs) satisfy the cost/size requirement, but performance is often sacri¯ced. For instance, high quality factor (Q factor) passive components are difficult to achieve in standard silicon-based IC processes.In recent years, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices have been receiving increasing attention as a possible replacement for various on-chip passive elements, offering potential improvement in performance while maintaining high levels of integration. Variable capacitors (varactor) are common elements used in various applications. One of the MEMS variable capacitors that has been recently developed is built using deep X-ray lithography (as part of the LIGA process). This type of capacitor exhibits high quality factor at microwave frequencies.The complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology dominates the silicon IC process. CMOS becomes increasingly popular for RF applications due to its advantages in level of integration, cost and power consumption. This research demonstrates a CMOS voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) design which is used to investigate methods, advantages and problems in integrating LIGA-MEMS devices to CMOS RF circuits, and to evaluate the performance of the LIGA-MEMS variable capacitor in comparison with the conventional on-chip CMOS varactor. The VCO was designed and fabricated using TSMC 0.18 micron CMOS technology. The core of the VCO, including transistors, resistors, and on-chip inductors was designed to connect to either an on-chip CMOS varactor or an off-chip LIGA-MEMS capacitor to oscillate between 2.6 GHz and 2.7 GHz. Oscillator phase noise analysis is used to compare the performance between the two capacitors. The fabricated VCO occupied an area of 1 mm^2.This initial attempt at VCO fabrication did not produce a functional VCO, so the performance of the capacitors with the fabricated VCO could not be tested. However, the simulation results show that with this LIGA-MEMS capacitor, a 6.4 dB of phase noise improvement at 300 kHz offset from the carrier is possible in a CMOS-based VCO design.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorKlymyshyn, David M.; Dinh, Anh van
Copyright DateJuly 2007